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AS~OR. Lft:ox AND 
R 19i3 

Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1841, by 
Herman Cope, Treasurer, in trust for the American Sunday 
school Union, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the 
Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 


It is one of the clearest principles of di- 
vine revelation, that holiness is the fruit of 
truth ; and it is one of the plainest inferences 
from that principle, that the exhibition of the 
truth is the best means of promoting holiness. 
Christians regard the word of God as the only- 
infallible teacher of those truths which relate 
to the salvation of men. But are the Scrip- 
tures really a revelation from God? If they 
are, what doctrines do they teach ? And what 
influence should those doctrines exert on our 
heart and life ? 

The publishing committee of the American 
Sunday-school Union have long felt the want 


of a book which should give a plain answer 
to these questions, and be suitable to place in 
the hands of intelligent and educated young 
persons, either to arouse their attention, or to 
guide their steps in the way of life. 

The following work has been prepared at 
the request of the committee, with the hope 
that it may in some measure answer the pur- 
pose just stated. In a Christian country it 
might seem unnecessary to raise the question 
whether the Scriptures are the word of God ? 
But those who have had much intercourse 
with young men, know that even among those 
who have been religiously educated, there is 
more or less skepticism upon this point ; and 
where there is no absolute skepticism, there is 
often an impression that the evidence of the 
divine origin of the Bible is not so decisive as 
it might, or even should be. Hence it is that 
the want of faith is seldom felt to be a great 
sin. It was therefore deemed important that 
the question, Why we are bound to believe 


the Bible to be the word of God? should be 
distinctly, though briefly, answered. 

The still more comprehensive question, 
What do the Scriptures teach? is of course 
here considered only in reference to those great 
practical doctrines which are essential to evan- 
gelical religion, viz.: the doctrines of sin, jus- 
tification, faith, repentance, and holy living. 

With regard to the influence which these 
doctrines should exert upon the heart and life, 
or, in other words, with regard to religious expe- 
rience, reference might be made to the nume- 
rous records of the exercises of the people of 
God, or to what we see daily in his church. 
As, however, the Scriptures themselves not 
only teach us what the truth is, but also how 
it operates upon an enlightened conscience 
and believing heart, our safest appeal is to 
them. It is there that we can best learn how 
we ought to feel and act in view of what the 
Bible teaches us of sin, of justification, faith, 


and repentance ; since genuine religious expe- 
rience is simply the accordance of our views 
and feelings with the truth of God. 

If this little book should be instrumental, 
by the simple exhibition of the truth, of point- 
ing out the way of life to those who are 
anxious to know what they must believe and 
what they must experience in order to be 
saved, it will answer the design of its prepa- 
ration and publication. 



Chap. I. — The Scriptures are the Word of God. 

Sec. I. — The internal evidence of the divine origin 

of the Scriptures 9 

Sec II. — The internal evidence of their divine ori- 
gin is the proper ground of faith in the 
Scriptures 22 

Sec. III. — External evidence of the divine origin of 
the Scriptures. The testimony of the 
Church 31 

Sec IV. — The argument from prophecy 36 

Chap. II. — Sin. 

Sec. I. — All men are sinners. The nature of man, 

since the fall, is depraved 53 

Sec. II. — The sins of men are numerous and aggra- 
vated 62 

Chap. III. — Causes of Indifference to the 
Charge of Sin. 
Sec. I. — Sin, want of consideration, striving against 

the Spirit 80 

Sec. II. — Sophistical objections against the doctrine 

of the Bible 85 

Chap. IV". — Conviction of Sin. 

Sec I. — Knowledge of sin. Sense of personal ill- 
desert 106 

Sec II. — Insufficiency of our own righteousness and 

of our own strength 123 



Chap. V. — Justification. 

Sec I. — Importance of the doctrine. Explanation 
of the Scriptural terms relating to it. Jus- 
tification is not by works 135 

Sec. II. — The demands of the law are satisfied by 

what Christ has done 151 

Sec. III. — The righteousness of Christ the true 
ground of our justification. The practi- 
cal effect of the doctrine 176 

Chap. VI.— Faith. 

Sec I. — Faith necessary in order to salvation. The 

nature of saving faith 191 

Sec II. — Faith as connected with Justification. . . . 208 

Chap. VII. — Repentance 219 

Chap. VIII. — Profession of Religion. 

Sec I. — The nature and necessity of a public pro- 
fession of religion 245 

Sec II. — Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The na- 
ture, design, and efficacy of these ordi- 
nances 255 

Sec III. — Obligation to attend upon the sacraments. 
Qualifications for the proper discharge of 
the duty 276 

Chap. IX. — Holy Living. 

Sec I. — The nature of true religion 293 

Sec II. — The means of sanctification 319 




Section - I. The Internal evidence of the divine origin of 
the Scriptures. 

It often happens that those who hear the gospel, 
doubt whether it is really the word of God. Hav- 
ing been taught from infancy to regard it as a divine 
revelation, and knowing no sufficient reason for 
rejecting it, they yield a general assent to its claims. 
There are times, however, when they would gladly 
be more fully assured that the Bible is not a cun- 
ningly devised fable. They think if that point was 
absolutely certain, they would at once submit to all 
the gospel requires. 

Such doubts do not arise from any deficiency in 



the evidence of the divine authority of the Scrip- 
tures ; nor would they be removed by any increase 
of that evidence. They have their origin in the 
state of the heart. The most important of all the 
evidences of Christianity, can never be properly 
appreciated unless the heart be right in the sight of 
God. The same exhibition of truth which pro- 
duces unwavering conviction in one mind, leaves 
another in a state of doubt or unbelief. And the 
same mind often passes rapidly, though rationally, 
from a state of scepticism to that of faith, without 
any change in the mere external evidence presented 
to it. 

No amount of mere external evidence can pro- 
duce genuine faith. The Israelites, who had seen 
a long succession of wonders in the land of Egypt ; 
who had passed through the divided waters of the 
Red Sea ; who were daily receiving by miracle food 
from heaven ; who had trembled at the manifesta- 
tions of the divine majesty on Mount Sinai ; within 
sight of that mountain, made a golden calf their 
God. The men, who saw the miracles of Christ 
performed almost daily in their presence, cried out, 
Crucify him, crucify him. Hence our Saviour said, 
that those who hear not Moses and the prophets 
would not be persuaded though one rose from the 
dead. We may confidently conclude, therefore, that 
those who now believe not the gospel, would not 


be persuaded had they seen all the miracles which. 
Christ performed. 

It is important that the attention of the doubting 
should be directed to the fact that their want of 
faith is to be attributed to their own moral state, 
and not to any deficiency in the evidence of the 
truth. If our gospel be hid, says the apostle, it is 
hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this 
world hath blinded the minds of them that believe 
not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, 
should shine unto them. 

There is nothing in the doctrine here stated, out 
of analogy with our daily experience. No truth 
can be properly apprehended unless there is a har- 
mony between it and the mind to which it is pre- 
sented. Even abstract or speculative truths are 
not seen to be true, unless the understanding be 
duly cultivated to apprehend them. With regard 
to objects of taste, unless there is a power to per- 
ceive the correspondence between them and the 
standard of beauty, there can be no appreciation of 
their excellence. And still more obviously in re- 
gard to moral and religious truth, there must be a 
state of mind suited to their apprehension. If our 
moral sense were entirely destroyed by sin, we 
could have no perception of moral distinctions ; if 
it is vitiated, what is true in itself and true in the 
view of the pure in heart, will not be true to us. 


A man, who has no adequate sense of the evil of 
sin, cannot believe in the justice of God. If you 
awaken his conscience, he is convinced at once, 
without the intervention of any process of proof. 

No one can fail to remark that the Bible demands 
immediate and implicit faith from all who read it. 
It may lie neglected in the study of the philosopher, 
or in the chest of the outcast sailor ; or it may be 
given by a missionary yet ignorant of the language 
of the heathen to whom he ministers. Themoment, 
however, it is opened, in these or any other cir- 
cumstances, it utters the same calm voice, He that 
believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ; he that 
believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the 
wrath of God abideth on him. If this demand was 
confined to the educated, we might suppose it to 
rest on evidence which the educated only are able 
to appreciate ; or if it was made of those only to 
whom the scriptures are presented by regularly 
commissioned ministers, we might suppose it rested 
on their authority ; but it is not thus confined. It 
is inseparable from the word itself. It is as im- 
perative when the Bible isr read by a child to a 
company of pagans, as when it is proclaimed in a 
cathedral. But if this demand of faith goes with 
the word wherever it goes, it must rest upon evi- 
dence contained in the word itself. The demand 
of faith cannot be more extensive, than the exhibi- 


tioii of evidence. Unless, therefore, we restrict 
the obligation and the benefits of faith to those who 
are capable of appreciating the external evidence 
of the Bible, we must admit that it contains its own 

To make the testimony of others to the truth of 
Christianity, the ground of faith, is inadmissible 
for two obvious reasons. In the first place, as 
already intimated, it is not sufficiently extensive. 
The obligation to believe rests on multitudes to 
whom that testimony is not addressed. In the 
second place, it is entirely inadequate. The great 
mass of men cannot be required to believe on the 
testimony of the learned few, a religion which is 
to control their conduct in this world and to decide 
their destiny in the next. Besides, learned men 
testify in behalf of the Koran as well as in favour 
of the Bible. That, therefore, cannot be an ade- 
quate ground of faith, which may be urged in sup- 
port of error as well as of truth. To require the 
common people to be able to see why the testimony 
of learned Christians may safely be relied upon, 
while that of learned Mussulmans should be re- 
jected, is to require of them a task as severe as 
the examination of the historical evidences of 
Christianity. There is, therefore, no way of justi- 
fying the universal, immediate and authoritative de- 
mand, which the Bible makes on our faith, except 


by admitting that it contains within itself the proofs 
of its divine origin. 

It may not be easy, or perhaps possible, to give 
any adequate exhibition of the nature of this proof 
to those who profess not to see it. Enough how- 
ever may be said to show that it is a rational and 
adequate ground for implicit confidence. Every 
work bears the impress of its maker. Even among 
men it is hard for one man successfully to counter- 
feit the work of another. Is it wonderful then 
that the works of God should bear the inimitable 
impress of their author ? Do not the heavens de- 
clare his glory ? Does not the mechanism of an 
insect as clearly evince the workmanship of God? 
Why then should it be deemed incredible that his 
word should contain inherent evidence of its divine 
origin ? If the Bible be the work of God, it must 
contain the impress of his character, and thereby 
evince itself to be divine. 

It may be objected that we are not competent to 
judge of this evidence. If it requires so much 
cultivation of the intellect to judge of the excel- 
lence of human productions, and so accurate an 
acquaintance with the character of their authors, in 
order to decide on the genuineness of such produc- 
tions, who can pretend to a knowledge of God 
which shall enable him to judge what is, or what is 
not worthy of his hand ? This would be a fatal 


objection if the internal evidence of the scriptures 
consisted in their intellectual excellence. It loses 
its force however when it is remembered that this 
excellence is, in a great measure, moral, and that 
goodness carries with it its own evidence. To appre- 
ciate evidence of this kind requires no great degree 
of knowledge or refinement. It requires merely right 
moral feelings. Where these exist, the evidence 
that goodness is goodness is immediate and irre- 
sistible. It is not because the Bible is written with 
more than human skill, and that its discrimination of 
character or its eloquence is beyond the powers of 
man, that we believe it to be divine. These are 
matters of which the mass of men are incompetent 
judges. The evidence in question is suited to the 
apprehension of the humblest child of God. It is 
partly negative and partly positive. It consists, in 
the first place, in the absence of every thing in- 
compatible with a divine origin. There is nothing 
inconsistent with reason, and there is nothing 
inconsistent with goodness. Did the scriptures 
contain any thing contrary to reason or to right 
moral feeling, belief in its divine origin would be 
impossible. Such a belief would involve the 
ascription of folly or sin to its author. There is 
more in this negative evidence than we are apt to 
imagine. It can not be urged in behalf of any 
other book but the Bible, claiming a divine origin. 


An impassable gulf is thus placed between the 
scriptures and all apocryphal writings. The claims 
of the latter are in every instance disproved by the 
fact that they contain statements which cannot be 

It is however the positive internal evidence of 
a divine origin, which gives power and authority to 
the claims of the Bible. This evidence consists 
mainly in its perfect holiness, in the correspondence 
between all its statements respecting God, man, 
redemption and a future state, and all our own 
right judgments, reasonable apprehensions and per- 
sonal experience. When the mind is enlightened 
to see this holiness ; when it perceives how exactly 
the rule of duty prescribed in the word of God 
agrees with that enforced by conscience ; how the 
account which it gives of human nature coincides 
with human experience ; how fully it meets our 
whole case; when it feels how powerfully the 
truths there presented operate to purify, console 
and sustain the soul, the belief of the scriptures is 
a necessary consequence. The idea that such a 
book is a lie and a forgery involves a contradiction. 
The human mind is so constituted that it cannot 
refuse its assent to evidence, when clearly per- 
ceived. We cannot withhold our confidence from 
a man whose moral excellence is plainly, variously 
and constantly manifested. We cannot see and 


feel his goodness, and yet believe him to be an 
impostor or deceiver. In like manner, we cannot 
see the excellence of the scriptures, and yet believe 
them to be one enormous falsehood. The Bible 
claims to be the word of God; it speaks in his 
name, it assumes his authority. How can these 
claims be false and yet the Bible be so Holy ? How 
can falsehood be an element of perfect excellence ? 
The only possible way of shaking our confidence 
in the competent testimony of a man, is to show 
that he is not a good man. If his goodness is ad- 
mitted, confidence in his word cannot be withheld, 
and especially when all he says finds its confirma- 
tion in our own experience, and commends itself 
to our conscience and judgment. Thus also it is 
impossible that we should discern the excellence 
of the scriptures and feel their correspondence with 
our experience and necessities, and yet suppose 
them to be untrue. 

When the woman of Samaria reported to her 
townsmen that Jesus had told her all that ever she 
did, many of them believed. But after they had 
themselves listened to his instructions, they said to 
the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy 
saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know 
that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the 
world.* No Christian can be surprised at this de- 

* John iv: 42. 



claration, or think the faitli in Christ founded upon 
what he said, either irrational or enthusiastic. We 
can well believe that there was such an ineffable 
manifestation of goodness in the Redeemer's coun- 
tenance, manner and doctrines, as to conciliate entire 
confidence. Those who were rightly affected could 
not fail to believe all he said ; that he was the 
Christ, that he came to seek and save them that are 
lost, to lay down his life for his sheep and to give 
himself a ransom for many. Can we doubt that the 
goodness of the Saviour, the elevation, holiness 
and power of his instructions, their correspondence 
with our own nature, experience and wants, would 
of themselves constitute an adequate ground of 
faith? All this we have. This every man has, 
who reads the Bible. There the Saviour stands in 
the majesty of unapproachable excellence. He 
utters in every hearing ear the words of eternal 
life ; declares his origin, his mission, the design of 
his advent and death ; offers pardon and eternal life 
to those who come unto God through him. There 
is the most perfect accordance between his claims 
and his conduct ; between his doctrines and what 
we know and what we need. To disbelieve him, is 
to believe him to be a deceiver, and to believe this, 
is to disbelieve our own perceptions ; for we know 
what goodness is, and we know that goodness 
cannot deceive, that God cannot lie. 


It makes very little difference as to the force of 
this kind of evidence, whether we personally saw 
and heard the Saviour for ourselves, or whether we 
read the exhibition of his character and the record 
of his instructions. For the evidence lies in his 
goodness and in the nature of his doctrines. It is 
the same to us who read the Bible, as it was to 
those that heard the Saviour. There is therefore 
the same violence done to reason and duty, in our 
rejecting it, as was offered by those who believed 
not because they were not of his sheep, that is, 
because they were insensible to the constraining 
influence of the grace and truth which were in 
Him. Does then any one ask, how we know that the 
Bible is not a forgery ? Let him consider what 
such an assumption involves. It supposes either 
that the authors of the Bible were fools, which we 
can no more believe than that Newton was an idiot ; 
or that they were wicked, which no man can believe 
who knows what goodness is. Wherever, there- 
fore, the Bible goes, it carries with it evidence, that 
is irresistible, (when attended to and apppreciated,) 
that its authors were neither dupes nor deceivers. 

It may be asked, If the Bible contains such clear 
evidence of its divine origin, why are there so many 
unbelievers ? To this it may be answered, that 
there are two things necessary in order that evi- 
dence should produce conviction. The first is that 


it should be attended to ; otherwise it might as well 
not exist. Of the many millions of people in 
Christendom, comparatively few give the Scriptures 
any serious attention. That such persons should 
have no effective faith, is no more a matter of sur- 
prise than that they should be ignorant of what they 
never learned. The second requisite for the recep- 
tion of evidence, is that it should be understood or 
really apprehended. If this evidence is addressed to 
the understanding, there must be strength of mind 
enough to comprehend its nature and bearing ; if 
addressed to the moral faculty, there must be moral 
sensibility to appreciate it, or it will be like light 
shining on the eyes of the blind. The internal 
evidence of the scriptures is in a great measure of 
this latter kind. It consists in their perfect holi- 
ness. In proportion as men are corrupt, they are 
blind to this kind of evidence. It may exist in all 
its force, and men be insensible to it. Another 
part of this evidence consists in the accordance 
between the scriptures and the religious experience 
of men. Those who have not the experience, can- 
not see this accordance. Still another portion of 
the evidence is made available by the power of God 
in subduing sin, in purifying the affections, in 
diffusing peace and joy through the heart. Those 
who have never felt this power cannot appreciate 
this kind of proof. The fact, therefore, that so 


large a proportion of mankind have no adequate 
faith in the Scriptures, affords no presumption 
against the existence of sufficient evidence. This 
fact is in exact accordance with what the Bible 
teaches of the moral state of man. 

Another objection to the view of the ground of 
faith given above, is that it leads to enthusiasm, and 
breaks down the distinction between true and false 
religion. Every enthusiast, it is said, thinks he 
sees wonderful excellence in the pretended revela- 
tions which he embraces. It is a sufficient answer 
to this objection to ask, whether the scholar has 
less faith in the excellence of the great standards of 
poetry, because the writers of doggerel rhymes have 
had their admirers ? That the sensual, selfish and 
cruel character of Mohammed appears good in the 
eyes of a Turk, does not prove him to be an enthu- 
siast who bows with reverence before the supreme 
excellence of Jesus Christ. That the pagan world 
saw evidence of the existence of their gods in the 
heavens and in the course of nature, does not make 
him an enthusiast, who recognizes in the works of 
God the manifestations of infinite power, wisdom 
and goodness. It is most unreasonable to assume 
that we must not feel the force of truth and excel- 
lence, because others have ascribed these attributes 
to error and vice. It is not according to the con- 
stitution of our nature that one man should cease to 


know a thing to be true or good, because others do 
not see it. The evidence is complete for him, 
though all the world reject it. 

If it is asked, where the standard is ; what 
criterion of excellence exists by which I am au- 
thorized to decide that what I call goodness is 
really such ; the rule is given in the nature of 
man. We know that benevolence is better than 
malice, veracity than deceit, humility than pride, 
and by the same rule we know that Christianity is 
better than Hindooism, and the blessed Redeemer 
than the Arabian impostor. No judgment can be 
more sure than this, no persuasion more intimate, 
no confidence either more firm or more rational. It 
is, therefore, no objection against admitting the ex- 
cellence of the Scriptures to be a proof of their 
divine origin, that besotted or deluded men have 
ascribed excellence to folly and wickedness. 

Section II. The internal evidence of their divine origin 
is the proper ground of faith in the Scriptures. 

The Scriptures themselves clearly teach that the 
faith which they demand is founded upon the au- 
thority of God, manifesting itself in them by the 
excellence and power of the truth which they con- 
tain. They everywhere represent faith as the 
elfect and evidence of ri<jht moral feelinjr, and un- 


belief as the result of moral or spiritual blindness. 
Our Saviour said to the Jews, If any man will do 
his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it 
be of God.* Again, He that is of God, heareth 
God's words ; ye therefore hear them not because 
yc are not of God.t On another occasion he said, 
Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep ; 
my sheep hear my voice.J The apostle speaks to 
the same effect, Hereby know ye the Spirit of 
God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ 
is come in the flesh, is of God. We are of God. 
He that knoweth God heareth us ; he that is not 
of God heareth not us. Hereby we know the 
spirit of truth and the spirit of error. § In like 
manner Paul says, The natural man receiveth not 
the things of the Spirit of God ; for they are fool- 
ishness unto him, neither can he know them be- 
cause they are spiritually discerned. || And again, 
If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost ; 
in whom the god of this world hath blinded the 
eyes of them that believe not, lest the light of the 
glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, 
should shine unto them. But God, who commanded 
the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our 
hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory 

* John vii. 17. f John viii. 47. t J^hn x. 90, 27. 
§ 1 John iv. 2 ; 3. [j 1 Cor, ii. 14. 


of God in the face of Jesus Christ.* The doctrine 
taught in these and similar passages, is that there 
is in the word of God and especially in the person 
and character of Jesus Christ, a clear and wonderful 
manifestation of the divine glory. To this mani- 
festation the natural man is blind, and therefore 
does not believe, but those who have the Spirit of 
God discern this glory and therefore believe. 

It is in accordance with this view that unbelief 
is represented as so grave a moral offence, and 
faith as so important a duty. Atheism is every 
where regarded as a crime, because the evidences 
of the existence of God are everywhere present, 
above us, around us and within us. They are ad- 
dressed to the moral constitution, as well as to the 
speculative understanding. They cannot be resisted 
without the same violence to moral obligations, or 
the authority of moral considerations, that is involved 
in calling virtue vice, and vice virtue. Hence the 
Scriptures always speak of unbelief as a sin against 
God, and the special ground of the condemnation of 
the world. He that believeth on him is not con- 
demned, but he that believeth not is condemned 
already, because he hath not believed in the name of 
the only begotten Son of God.t Who is a liar, 
but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He 

* 2 Cor. iv. 3— G. f John iii. 18. 


is anti-Christ, that denieth the Father and the Son. 
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the 
Father.* Disbelief of the Son as revealed in the 
Scriptures, is an ofTence of the same nature as the 
denial of God. In both cases supreme excellence 
is revealed and disregarded. Much to the same 
effect the Saviour says, He that hateth me, hateth 
my Father also.t On the other hand, faith is re- 
presented as the highest act of obedience, as a 
moral act of the greatest worth in the sight of God. 
"Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christis born 
of God.J As many as received him, to them gave 
lie power to become the sons of God, even to as 
many as believed on his name.§ And our Saviour 
told the enquiring Jews, This is the work of God, 
that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.[| These 
representations cannot be reconciled with the as- 
sumption that faith is founded on external testimony, 
which does not address itself to our moral nature, 
and an assent to which has so little concern with 
moral character. All is plain, however, if we are 
required to believe in the Son because his glory as 
of the only begotten of the Father is presented to 
us ; and to receive the Scriptures because they bear 
the impress of the divine perfections. If this be 

* 1 John ii. 22, 23. f John xv. 23. t 1 John v. 1. 

§ John i, 12. [J John vi. 29. 



the ground of faith, unbelief is indeed a crime. It 
is a refusal to recognise wisdom and holiness, and 
to acknowledge the manifested excellence of God. 

This view of the ground of faith is confirmed by 
the effects ascribed to that grace. It works by 
love, it purifies the heart, it overcomes the world, 
it produces peace and joy. It is indeed conceiva 
ble that the conviction of truths affecting our inte- 
rests, however produced, should call forth fear, 
sorrow or joy according to their nature. But it is 
not conceivable that belief of moral or religious 
truths, founded upon the testimony of others, should 
control our affections. A man may believe on au- 
thority, or on merely rational grounds, that we are 
under a moral government, and that the law by 
which we are bound is holy, just and good, but 
such a faith will not subdue his opposition. He 
may be, by argument or miracle, convinced of the 
existence of God, but such a faith will not pro- 
duce love. Faith therefore cannot have the effects 
ascribed to it, unless it is founded on a spiritual 
apprehension of the truths believed. 

Hence it is that faith is represented as the gift of 
God. The evidence indeed is presented to all, or 
there would be no obligation to believe; but men 
are morally blind, and therefore the eyes of their 
understanding must be opened that they may un- 
derstand the things which are freely given to them 


of God. The apostle therefore says to his be- 
lieving brethren, Ye have an unction from the 
Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not 
written unto you, because ye know not the truth, 
but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the 
truth. The anointing which ye have received of 
him abide th in you, and ye need not that any man 
teach you : but as the same anointing teacheth you 
of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as 
it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.* It is 
here taught, as in other passages already quoted, 
that believers are the recipients of an influence, an 
unction, from the Holy One, which convinces them 
of the truth, and makes them see and know that it 
is truth. Hence Paul says, his preaching was not 
with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in 
the demonstration of the Spirit and of power ; that 
the faith of his hearers might not stand in the wis- 
dom of men, but in the power of God ; that is, 
that their faith might not be the effect of skilful 
reasoning, but of the spiritual perception and expe- 
rience of the truth. 

All this is confirmed by the constant practice of 
the inspired teachers. Though they appealed to 
all kinds of evidence in support of the doctrines 
which they taught, to signs and wonders, and 

* 1 John ii. 20, 21, 27. 


divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, yet 
they by no means rested the obligation to believe 
either exclusively or mainly upon these external 
signs. In many cases faith was demanded by 
those inspired men who never wrought miracles 
of any kind, as was the fact in the case of some 
of the prophets ; and still more frequently it was 
required of those among whom no such wonders 
had been performed. When the Jews demanded a 
sign and the Greeks wisdom, the apostles preached 
Christ, and him crucified, as the wisdom of God 
and the power of God unto salvation. Their con- 
stant endeavour was by the manifestation of the 
truth to commend themselves to every man's con- 
science in the sight of God. And if their gospel 
was hid, it was hid to them that are lost. 

It is, therefore, plainly the doctrine of the scrip- 
tures themselves, that the word of God is to be 
believed because of the authority or command of 
God manifesting itself therein, in a manner analo- 
gous to the exhibition of his perfections in the 
works of nature. If, as Paul teaches us, the eternal 
power and godhead are so clearly manifested by 
the things that are made, that even the heathen are 
without excuse ; and if their unbelief is ascribed 
not to the want of evidence, but to their not liking 
to retain God in their knowledge ; we need not 
wonder that the far clearer manifestation of the 


divine perfections made in the scripture, should be 
the ground of a more imperative command to bo- 

It is the experience of true Christians in all 
ages and nations that their faith is founded on the 
spiritual apprehension and experience of the power 
of the truth. There are multitudes of such Chris- 
tians, who, if asked why they believe the scriptures 
to be the word of God, might find it difficult to 
give an answer, whose faith is nevertheless both 
strong and rational. They are conscious of its 
grounds though they may not be able to state them. 
They have the witness in themselves, and know 
that they believe, not because others believe, or be- 
cause learned men have proved certain facts which 
establish the truth of Christianity. They believe 
in Christ for the same reason that they believe in 
God ; and they believe in God because they see 
his glory and feel his authority and power. 

If then the truth of God contains in its own 
nature a revelation of divine excellence, the sin of 
unbelief is a very great sin. Not to have faith in 
God, when clearly revealed, is the highest offence 
which a creature can commit against its creator. 
To refuse credence to the testimony of God, when 
conveyed in the manner best adapted to our nature, 
is to renounce our allegiance to our creator. To dis- 
regard the evidence of truth and excellence in Jesus 


Christ, is the highest indignity that we can show 
to truth and excellence. This sin is common, and 
therefore is commonly disregarded. Men do not 
easily see the turpitude of evils with which they 
are themselves chargeable. The faults of those 
who go beyond them in iniquity they are quick to 
discern. And therefore the man who feels no com- 
punction at want of faith in the Son of God, will 
abhor him who pronounces the Redeemer a wicked 
impostor. He will wait for no explanation and will 
listen to no excuse. The mere fact that a man, 
acquainted with the Scriptures, is capable of such 
a judgment respecting the Son of God, is proof of 
depravity which nothing can gainsay. Yet how 
little difference is there between the state of mind 
which would admit of such a judgment, and the 
state in which those are who have no faith in 
the declarations of Christ; who disregard his 
promises and warnings ; who do not feel them to 
be true, and therefore treat them as fables. The 
want of faith therefore of which men think so 
lightly, will be found the most unreasonable and per- 
haps the most aggravated of all their sins. It im- 
plies an insensibility to the highest kind of evidence, 
and involves the rejection of the greatest gift which 
God has ever offered to man, pardon, holiness, and 
eternal life. 


Section III. External evidence of the divine origin of 
the Scriptures. The Testimony of the Church. 

As God has left the heathen to the unauthenti- 
cated revelation of himself in his works, and holds 
them responsible for their unbelief, so he might 
have left us to the simple revelation of himself in 
his word. He has been pleased, however, to con- 
firm that word by external proofs of the most con- 
vincing character, so that we are entirely without 

The testimony of the church is of itself an un- 
answerable argument for the truth of Christianity. 
The validity of this testimony does not depend 
upon the assumed infallibility of any class of men. 
It is merely the testimony of an innumerable body 
of witnesses, under circumstances which preclude 
the idea of delusion nor deception. For the sake of 
illustration take any particular branch of Christ's 
church, as for example the Lutheran. It now exists 
in Europe and America. It every where possesses 
the same version of the Scriptures, and the same 
confession of faith. Its testimony is, that it owes 
its existence as an organized body, to Luther; to 
whom it ascribes the translation of the Bible, and 
under whose auspices it professes to have received 
the Augsburg Confession. It is clearly impossible 
that these documents could, during the present 


century, have been palmed upon these scattered 
millions of men. They all bear testimony that 
they received them as they now are from the hands 
of their fathers. As to this point, neither delusion 
nor deception is conceivable. In the eighteenth 
century we find this church scarcely less numerous 
than it is at present. It bore the same testimony 
then, that it does now. With one voice it de- 
clared that their fathers possessed before them the 
standards of their faith. This testimony is repeated 
again in the seventeenth, and again in the sixteenth 
century, till we come to the age of Luther. This 
testimony, conclusive in itself, is confirmed by all 
kinds of collateral evidence. Every thing in the 
style, doctrines and historical references of the 
standards of the Lutheran church, agrees with the 
age to which they are referred. The influence of 
a society holding those doctrines is traceable 
through the whole of the intervening period. The 
wars, the treaties, the literary and religious institu- 
tions of the period, to a greater or less degree, 
received their character from that Society. Much 
therefore as men may differ as to Luther's character, 
as to the wisdom of his conduct or the truth of his 
doctrines, no sane man has ever questioned the fact 
that he lived, that he translated the Scriptures, that 
he organized a new church, and gave his followers 
the Augsburg confession. 


The same series of remarks might be made in 
reference to the church of England. That extended 
and powerful body has her thirty-nine articles, 
her liturgy, and her homilies, which she testifies 
she received from the Reformers. This testimony 
cannot be doubted. At no period of her history 
could that church either deceive or have been de- 
ceived, as to that point. Her testimony moreover 
is confirmed by all collateral circumstances. The 
liturgy, articles and homilies are in every respect 
consistent with their reputed origin ; and the whole 
history of England during that period is interwoven 
with the history of that church. The consequence 
is, no man doubts that the English reformers lived, 
or that they framed the standards of doctrine and 
worship universally ascribed to them. 

This argument when applied to the whole Chris- 
tian church is no less conclusive. This church 
now exists in every quarter of the globe, and em- 
braces many millions of disciples. Every where 
it has the same records of its faith ; it is every 
where an organized society with religious officers 
and ordinances. It every where testifies that these 
records and institutions were received from Christ 
and his apostles. That this vast society did not 
begin to exist during the present century, is as 
evident as that the world was not just made. It is 
no less plain that it did not begin to exist in the 


eighteenth, the seventeenth, the sixteenth, nor in 
any other century subsequent to the first in our 
era. In each succeeding century, we find millions 
of men, thousands of churches and ministers uniting 
their testimony to the fact that they received their 
sacred writings and institutions from their prede- 
cessors, until we come to the age of Christ himself. 
Did the origin of the church run back beyond the 
limits of authentic history, so as to leave a gap be- 
tween its reputed founder and its ascertained ex- 
istence, this argument would fail ; an essential link 
would be wanting, and the whole extended chain 
would fall to the ground. But as this is not the 
case, its testimony touching the historical facts of its 
origin, is irresistible as that of the church of Eng- 
land respecting the origin of its articles and liturgy. 
The Christian church is traced up to the time of 
Christ by a mass of evidence which cannot be re- 
sisted; so that to deny that Christ lived, and that 
the church received from his followers the sacred 
writings, is not merely to reject the testimony of 
thousands of competent witnesses, but to deny facts 
which are essential to account for the subsequent 
history and the existing state of the world. A 
man might as well profess to believe in the foliage 
of a tree, but not in its branches and stem. 

This testimony of the church as to the facts on 
which Christianity is founded, is confirmed by all 


kinds of collateral evidence. The language in 
which the New Testament is written is precisely 
that which belonged to the time and place of its 
origin. It is the language of Jews speaking Greek, 
and in its peculiarities belonged to no other age or 
people. All the historical allusions are consistent 
with the known state of the world at that time. 
The history of the world since the advent of Christ 
pre-supposes the facts recorded in the New Testa- 
ment. It is beyond a doubt that the religion taught 
by a few poor men in Judea, has changed the state 
of a large part of the world. Paganism has dis- 
appeared, a new religion been introduced; laws, 
customs, institutions and manners become prevalent, 
and they all rest upon the facts to which the church 
bears her testimony. 

Beyond all this, the internal character of the 
scriptures is worthy of the origin ascribed to them ; 
a character which gives the only adequate solution 
of the revolution which they have effected. When 
God said, Let there be light, there was light. And 
when Jesus Christ said, I am the light of the 
world, the light shone. We cannot doubt that it is 
light ; neither can we doubt when it arose, for all 
before was darkness. 

This testimony of the church, thus confirmed by 
all internal and external proofs, establishes the fact 
that Christ lived and died, that he founded the 


Christian church, and that the New Testament was 
received from his immediate followers. But these 
facts involve the truth of the gospel as a revelation 
from God, unless we suppose that Christ and his 
apostles were deceivers. The evidence against this 
latter assumption is as strong as the evidence of 
the existence of the sun. The blind, if they please, 
may deny that the sun exists, and none but the 
morally blind can resist the evidence which the 
New Testament affords of the moral excellence 
and intellectual sobriety of the sacred writers. If 
they were trustworthy men, men who we are to 
believe spoke the truth, then they actually possessed 
and exercised the miraculous powers to which they 
laid claim. To these powers Christ and his apos- 
tles appealed as an unanswerable proof of their 
divine mission ; and we cannot reject their testi- 
mony without denying their integrity. 

Section IV. The argument from Prophecy. 

The same course of argument which proves that 
the version of the scriptures and the Augsburg con- 
fession in the possession of the Lutheran church ; 
that the articles, liturgy and homilies in the posses- 
sion of the church of England ; that the New 
Testament in the possession of the whole Chris- 
tian world, were derived from the sources to which 


they are severally referred, proves with equal force 
that the writings of the Old Testament in the pos- 
session of the Jews are the productions of the 
ancient prophets. Jews and Christians now have 
them. They had them a century ago ; they had 
them in the time of Christ. They were then uni- 
versally acknowledged by the Israelites in Judea 
and elsewhere. They can be historically traced 
up centuries before the advent of Christ. Three 
hundred years before that event, they were translated 
into the Greek language and widely disseminated. 
They contain the history, laws, and literature of 
the people of Judea, whose existence and peculiari- 
ties are as well ascertained as those of any people 
in the world. These writings are essential to 
account for the known character of that people, for 
it was in virtue of these sacred books that they weir 
what they were. Critics have indeed disputed 
about the particular dates of some of these produc- 
tions, but no one has had the hardihood to deny 
that they existed centuries before the birth of Christ. 
This being admitted, we have a basis for another 
argument for the truth of Christianity, which can- 
not be resisted. 

In these ancient writings, preserved in the hands 

of the open enemies of Christ, we find the advent 

of a deliverer clearly predicted. Immediately after 

the apostasy, it was foretold that the seed of the 



woman should bruise the serpent's head. This 
prediction is the germ of all the subsequent pro- 
phecies, which do but reveal its manifold meaning. 
Who the promised seed was to be, and how the 
power of evil was by him to be destroyed, later 
predictions gradually revealed. It was first made 
known that the Redeemer should belong to the race 
of Shem.* Then that he should be of the seed 
of Abraham, to whom the promise was made ; Iv 
thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ;i 
then that he should be of the tribe of Judah of 
whom it was foretold that, The sceptre shall not 
depart from Judah, or a law-giver from between 
his feet, until Shiloh come, and to him shall be 
the gathering of the people.;}; Subsequently it was 
revealed that he was to be of the lineage of David ; 
There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of 
Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots, 
and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the 
spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of 
knowledge and the fear of the Lord.§ 

It was foretold that his advent should be pre- 
ceded by that of a special messenger. Behold I 
send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way 
before me ; and the Lord whom ye seek shall sud- 

* Gen. ix. 26. f Gen. xviii. 18. 

i Gen. xlix. 10. § Is. xi. 1, 2. 


denly come to his temple, even the messenger of 
the covenant whom ye delight in, behold he shall 
come saith the Lord of Hosts.* The time, the 
manner, and the place of his birth were all pre- 
dicted. As to the time, Daniel said, Know there- 
fore and understand that from the going forth of the 
commandment to build and restore Jerusalem unto 
Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks and three 
score and two weeks. t As to the miraculous man- 
ner of his birth, Isaiah said, Behold a virgin shall 
conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name 
Immanuel.J As to the place, Micah said, But thou 
Bethlehem Ephratah though thou be little among 
the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come 
forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel. § 

This deliverer was to be a poor man. Behold, 
O daughter of Zion, thy king cometh unto thee, 
poor, riding upon an ass and a colt the foal of an ass.j| 
He was to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with 
grief, despised and rejected of men,^[ and yet Im- 
manuel, God with us,** Jehovah our righteous- 
ness,tt Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, 
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, ±J 

* Mai. iii. 1. f Daniel ix. 25. $ Isaiah vii. 14. 

§ Micah v. 2. |j Zech. ix. 9. 1 Is. 53. 

** Is. vii. 14. ft Jer - xxiii - 6 - ** Is - ix - 6 - 


whose goings forth were of old, from the days of 

The Redeemer thus predicted was to appear in 
the character of a prophet or divine teacher. The 
Lord thy God, said Moses, will raise up unto thee 
a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, 
like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken. t Behold 
my servant whom I uphold, mine elect in whom 
my soul delighteth, I have put my Spirit upon him, 
he shall bring forth judgment unto the Gentiles. ;f 
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because 
he hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto 
the meek ; he hath sent me to bind up the broken 
hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the 
opening of the prison to them that are bound. § In 
that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, 
the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and 
out of darkness ; the meek also shall increase 
their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men 
shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. j| 

He was also to be a priest. The Lord hath 
sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest for- 
ever after the order of Melchizedek.^j He shall 
build the temple of the Lord, and he shall bear 

* Mich. v. 2. f Dcut. xviii. 15. i Is. xlii. 1. 

§ Is. lxi. 1. I! Is. xxix. IS, 10. 1 Ps. ex. 4. 


the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his 
throne, and he shall be a priest upon his throne.* 

The regal character of this Redeemer is set forth 
in almost every page of the prophetic writings. I 
have anointed, (said God in reference to the Mes- 
siah,) my king on my holy hill of Zion.t Thy 
throne O God is forever and ever ; the sceptre of 
thy kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness. Thou 
lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness, there- 
fore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil 
of gladness above thy fellows.J Unto us a child is 
born, and unto us a son is given, and the govern- 
ment shall be upon his shoulder. Of the increase 
of his government and peace there shall be no end, 
upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom to 
order it, and to establish it with judgment and jus- 
tice from henceforth even for ever.§ 

The characteristics of this kingdom of the Mes- 
siah were also clearly predicted. They were to be 
a spiritual, in distinction from the external and cere- 
monial character of the former dispensation. Be- 
hold the days shall come, saith the Lord, that I 
will make a new covenant with the house of Israel 
and with the house of Judah, not according to the 
covenant which I made with their fathers, &c. I 

* Zech. vi. 13. f Ps. ii. 6. 

t Ps. xlv. 6, 7. § Is. ix. 6, 7. 



will put my law in their inward parts and write it 
in their hearts, and will be their God, and they 
shall be my people.* Hence the effusion of the 
Holy Spirit is so constantly mentioned as attending 
the advent of the promised Redeemer. In that day 
I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your 
sons and your daughters shall prophesy, &c.t 

Again, this kingdom was not to be confined to 
the Jews, but was to include all the world. As 
early as in the book of Genesis it was declared that 
the obedience of all nations should be yielded to 
Shiloh, and that all the nations of the earth should 
be blessed in Abraham and his seed. God promised 
the Messiah the heathen for his inheritance and the 
utmost parts of the earth for his possession.^ It 
shall come to pass in the last days, said Isaiah, that 
the mountain of the Lord's house shall be establish- 
ed upon the top of the mountains, and shall be 
exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow 
unto it.§ It is a light thing, said God, that thou 
shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of 
Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel, I will 
also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou 
mayest be my salvation to the ends of the earth. || 
In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which 

* Jer. xxxi. 31, 32. f Joel it. 23. * Ps. ii. 8. 

§ Is. ii. 2. 1 Is xlix. G. 


shall stand for an ensign of the people, and to it 
shall the Gentiles seek.* I saw in the night visions, 
said Daniel, and behold, one like the Son of man 
came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the 
Ancient of days, and they brought him near before 
him ; and there was given to him dominion and 
glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and 
languages should serve him ; his dominion is an 
everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, 
and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.! 
Its progress however was to be gradual. The 
stone cut out of the mountains, without hands, was 
to break in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the 
silver and the gold, i. e. all other kingdoms, and 
become a great mountain and nil the whole earth 4 
Though the prophets describe in such strong 
language the excellence, glory and triumph of this 
Redeemer, they did not the less distinctly predict 
his rejection, sufferings and death. Lord who hath 
believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of 
the Lord been revealed. For he shall grow up 
before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a 
dry ground ; he is despised and rejected of men, 
we hid as it were our faces from him, he was 
despised and we esteemed him not.§ To him whom 

* Is. xi. 10. f Dan. vii. 13, 14. 

i Dan. ii. 45. § Is. liii. 


man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, 
to a servant of rulers, kings shall see and arise, 
and princes also shall worship.* The people whom 
he came to redeem, it was foretold, would not only 
reject him, but betray and sell him for thirty pieces 
of silver. If ye think good, give my price, and if 
not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty 
pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, 
Cast it unto the potter, the goodly price at which 
I was prized at of them.t He was to be grievously 
persecuted and put to death. He was, said the 
prophet, taken from prison and from judgment (cut 
off by an oppressive judgment) and who shall de- 
clare his generation; for he was cut off from the 
land of the living ; for the transgression of my 
people was he stricken. And he made his grave 
with the wicked and with the rich in his death.;]: 
Even the manner and circumstances of his death 
were minutely foretold. The assembly of the 
wicked enclose me ; they pierce my hands and my 
feet. They part my garments among them and 
cast lots upon my vesture. § He was not however 
to continue under the power of death. Thou wilt 
not leave my soul in hell ; neither wilt thou suffer 
thy holy one to see corruption. || 

* Is. xlix. 7. f Zech. xi. 12. } Is. liii. 8, 9. 

§ Ps. xxii. 1G, 18. H Ps. xvi. 10, 11. 


The consequences of the rejection of the Mes- 
siah to the Jewish people were also predicted with 
great distinctness. The children of Israel, it is 
said, shall abide many days without a king, without 
a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an 
image, and without teraphim. Afterwards shall 
the children of Israel return and seek the Lord and 
his goodness in the latter days.* Though the 
number of the children of Israel be as the sand of 
the sea, a remnant shall be saved.t Of the rebel- 
lious portion of the nation it was said, I will 
scatter them among all people, from one end of the 
earth to the other, and among those nations shalt 
thou find no ease, neither shall the soul of thy foot 
have rest ; . . . . And thou shalt become an aston- 
ishment and proverb, and a by-word among all 
nations, whither the Lord shall lead thee.i Though 
thus scattered and afflicted, they were not to be 
utterly destroyed, for God promised saying, When 
they are in the land of their enemies I will not 
cast them away, neither will I abhor them to 
destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant 
with them, for I am the Lord their God.§ It was 
moreover predicted that after a long dispersion they 
should be brought to acknowledge their crucified 

* Hos. iii. 4, 5. f Is. x. 22, 23. 

i Deut. xxviii. G6. § Lev. xxvi. 44. 


king. I will pour upon the house of David and 
upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of 
grace and supplications, and they shall look upon 
me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn 
for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and 
shall be in bitterness for him, as one is in bitterness 
for his first-born.* This same prophet foretold that 
after the people had rejected and betrayed the good 
shepherd, they should be given up to the oppression 
of their enemies, the greater portion should be de- 
stroyed, but the residue, after long suffering should 
be restored.! 

This representation of the prophecies of the 
Jewish Scriptures, respecting Christ and his king- 
dom, is in the highest degree inadequate. It would 
be impossible to give a full exhibition of the sub- 
ject, without unfolding the whole Old Testament 
economy. It is not in detached predictions merely, 
that the former dispensation was prophetic. In its 
main design it was prefigurative and preparatory. 
It had indeed its immediate purpose to answer, in 
preserving the Israelites a distinct people, in sus- 
taining the true religion, and in exhibiting the 
divine perfections in his government of the church. 
But all this was subordinate to its grand purpose of 
preparing that people and the world for the advent 

* Zech. xii. 10. f Zcch. xiii. 7, 9. 


of Christ, and to be a shadowy representation of 
the glories of the new dispensation, for the double 
purpose of affording an object of faith and hope to 
those then living, and that the new economy might 
be better understood, more firmly believed and 
more extensively embraced. Detached passages 
from such a scheme of history and prophecy are 
like the scattered ruins of an ancient temple. To 
form a just judgment the plan must be viewed as a 
whole as well as in its details. It could then be 
seen that the history of the Jews was the history 
of the lineage of Christ; the whole sacrificial ritual 
a pre figuration of the Lamb of God who was to 
bear the sin of the world ; that the tabernacle and 
the temple, with their complicated services, were 
types of things spiritual and heavenly ; that the 
prophets, who were the teachers and correctors of 
the people, were sent, not merely nor principally to 
foretell temporal deliverances, but mainly to keep 
the eyes of the people directed upward and onward 
to the great deliverer and to the final redemption. 
Detached passages can give no adequate conception 
of this stupendous scheme of preparation and pro- 
phecy, running through thousands of years, and 
its thousand lines all tending to one common cen- 
tre, — the cross of Christ. 

The argument from prophecy in support of the 
truth of Christianity, therefore, can be appreciated 


by those only who will candidly study the whole 
system. Still enough has been presented to show 
that it is impossible to account for the correspon- 
dence between the prophecies of the Old Testa- 
ment and the events recorded in the New, upon any 
other assumption than that of divine inspiration. 
We have seen that it was predicted, centuries before 
the advent of Christ, that a great deliverer should 
arise, to be born of the tribe of Judah, and of the 
family of David, and at the village of Bethlehem ; 
that he should be a poor and humble man and yet 
worthy of the highest reverence paid to God ; that 
he should be a teacher, priest and king ; that he 
should be rejected by his own people, persecuted 
and put to death ; that he should rise again from 
the dead ; that the Spirit of God should be poured 
out upon his followers, giving them holiness, wis- 
dom and courage ; that true religion, no longer con- 
fined to the Jews, should be extended to the Gen- 
tiles and in despite of all opposition should con- 
tinue, triumph and ultimately cover the earth ; 
that the Jews who rejected the Messiah, should be 
cast otT and scattered and yet preserved ; like a 
river in the ocean, divided but not dissipated, a 
standing miracle, a fact without a parallel or analo- 
gy. Here then is the whole history of Christ and 
his kingdom, written centuries before his advent. 
A history full of apparent inconsistencies ; a history 


not written in one age or by one man, but in dif- 
ferent ages and by different men, each adding some 
new fact or characteristic, yet all combining to form 
one consistent, though apparently contradictory 

Admitting then, what no one denies, the anti- 
quity of the Jewish Scriptures, there is no escape 
from the conclusion that they were written by 
divine inspiration, and that Jesus Christ to whom 
they so plainly refer, is the Son of God and the 
Saviour of the world. To suppose that Christ, 
knowing these ancient prophecies, set himself, 
without divine commission, to act in accordance 
with them, is to suppose impossibilities. It is to 
suppose that Jesus Christ was a bad man, which 
no one, who reads the New Testament, can believe, 
any more than he can believe that the sun is the 
blackness of darkness. It is to suppose him to 
have had a control over the actions of others which 
no impostor could exert. Many of the most im- 
portant predictions in reference to Christ were ful- 
filled by the acts of his enemies. Did Christ 
instigate the treachery of Judas, or prompt the 
priests to pay the traitor thirty pieces of silver I 
Did he plot with Pilate for his own condemnation ? 
or so arrange that he should die by aRoman, instead 
of a Jewish, mode of capital infliction ? Did he 
induce the soldiers to part his garments and cast 


lots upon his vesture, or stipulate with them that 
none of his bones should be broken ? By what 
possible contrivance could the two great predicted 
events of the final destruction of the Jewish policy 
and the consequent dispersion of the ^ews, on the 
one hand, and the rapid propagation of the new 
religion among the Gentiles, on the other, have beer 
brought to pass ? These events were predicted, 
their occurrence was beyond the scope of contri- 
vance or imposture. There is no rational answer 
to this argument from prophecy. The testimony 
of the Scriptures to the messiahship of Jesus 
Christ, is the testimony of God. Search the 
Scriptures, said our Saviour himself, for in them 
ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they 
which testify of me. 

God then has been pleased to hedge up the way 
to infidelity. Men must do violence to all their 
usual modes of argument ; they must believe moral 
impossibilities and irreconcilable contradictions, and 
above all they must harden their hearts to the 
excellence of the Saviour, before they can become 

This exposition of the grounds of faith is made 
in order to show that unbelief is a sin ; and to 
justify the awful declaration of Christ, " He that 
believeth not, shall be damned." Men flatter them- 
selves that they are not responsible for their faith. 


Belief being involuntary, cannot, it is said, be a 
matter of praise or blame. This false opinion 
arises from confounding things very different in 
their nature. Faith differs according to its object 
and the nature of the evidence on which it is- founded. 
A man believes that two and two are four, or that 
Napoleon died in St. Helena, and is neither morally 
better, nor worse for such a faith. Disbelief, in such 
cases, would indicate insanity, not moral aberration. 
But no man can believe that virtue is vice or vice 
virtue, without being to the last degree depraved. 
No man can disbelieve in God, especially under 
the light of revelation, without thereby showing 
that he is destitute of all right moral and religious 
sentiments. And no man can disbelieve the record 
which God has given of his Son, without being 
blind to the glory of God and the moral excellence 
of the Saviour. He rejects the appropriate testi- 
mony of God, conveyed in a manner which proves 
it to be his testimony. 

It is vain, therefore, for any man to hope that he can 
be innocently destitute of faith in God or of faith 
in Jesus Christ. If the external world retains such 
an impression of the hand of God, as to leave 
those without excuse, who refuse to regard it as his 
work ; surely those who refuse to acknowledge the 
excellence of his word and the glory of his Son, 
will not be held guiltless. The evidence which 


has convinced millions, is before their eyes, and 
should convince them. Instead, therefore, of apolo- 
gizing for their want of faith and complaining of 
the weakness of the evidence, to which nothing but 
neglect or blindness can render them insensible, let 
them confess their guilt in not believing, and humble 
themselves before God and pray that he would open 
their eyes to see the excellence of his word. They 
should dismiss their cavils, and be assured that if 
the Bible does not win their faith by its milder 
glories, it will one day, reveal itself by its terrors, 
to their awakened consciences, to be indeed the 
word of God. 


Section I. All men are sinners. The nature of man, 
since t he fall, is depraved. 

Singh- then the Scriptures are undoubtedly the 
word of God, with what reverence should we re- 
ceive their divine instructions ; with what assiduity 
and humility should we study them ; with what 
confidence should we rely upon the truth of all 
their declarations ; and with what readiness should 
we obey all their directions! We are specially 
concerned to learn what they teach with regard to 
the character of men, the way of salvation, and 
the rule of duty. 

With respect to the first of these points, (the 
character of men) the Bible very clearly teaches 
that all men are sinners. The apostle Paul not 
only asserts this truth, but proves it at length, in 
reference both to those who live under the light of 
nature, and those who enjoy the light of revelation. 
The former, he says, are justly chargeable with 
5 * 53 

54 s i n. 

impiety and immorality, because the perfections of 
the divine Being, his eternal power and godhead, 
have, from the creation, been manifested by the 
things which are made. Yet men have not ac- 
knowledged their creator. They neither worshipped 
him as God, nor were thankful for his mercies, but 
served the creature more than the creator. In thus 
departing from the fountain of all excellence, they 
departed from excellence itself. Their foolish 
hearts were darkened and their corruption manifests 
itself not only by degrading idolatry, but by the 
various forms of moral evil both in heart and life. 
These sins are committed against the law which is 
written on every man's heart ; so that they know 
that those who do such things are worthy of death, 
and are therefore without excuse even in their own 

With regard to those who enjoy a supernatural 
revelation of the character and requirements of 
God, the case is still more plain. Instead of ren- 
dering to this God the inward and outward homage 
which are his due, they neglect his service, and 
really prefer his creatures to himself. Instead of 
regulating their conduct by the perfect rule of duty 
contained in the Scriptures, they constantly dis- 
honour God, by breaking that law. It is thus the 
apostle shows that all classes of men, when judged 
by the light they have severally enjoyed, are found 

s i N. 55 

guilty before God. This universality of guilt more- 
over, he says, is confirmed by the clear testimony 
of the Scriptures, which declare, There is none 
righteous, no not one. There is none that under- 
slandeth ; there is none that seeketh after God. 
They have all gone out of the way ; they have 
altogether become unprofitable ; there is none that 
doeth good, no not one. 

This language is not used by the Holy Spirit in 
reference to the men of any one age or country, 
but in reference to the human race. It is intended 
to describe the moral character of man. It is in 
this sense that it is quoted and applied by the 
apostle. And we accordingly find similar declara- 
tions in all parts of the Bible, in the New Testa- 
ment, as well as in the Old, in the writings of one 
age, as well as in those of another. And there 
are no passages of an opposite character; there are 
none which represent the race as being what God 
requires, nor any which speak of any member of 
that race as being free from sin. On the contrary, 
it is expressly said, If we say we have no sin, 
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.* 
In many tilings we all ofTend.t There is no man 
that sinneth not-.t All have sinned and come short 
of the glory of God.§ Hence the Scriptures pro- 

* 1 John i. 3. f J:\mes iii. 2. } 1 Kings viii. 46. 
§ Roin. iii. 23. 

56 sin. 

ceed upon the assumption of the universal sinful- 
ness of men. To speak, to act, to walk after the 
manner of men, is, in the language of the Bible, to 
speak or act wickedly. The world are the wicked. 
This present evil world, is the description of man- 
kind, from whose character and deserved punish- 
ment, it is said to be the design of Christ's death 
to redeem his people.* The world cannot hate 
you, said our Saviour to those who refused to be 
his disciples, but me it hateth, because I testify of it 
that the works thereof are evil.t They are of the 
world, therefore they speak of the world and the 
world heareth them.J We are of God, and the 
whole world lieth in wickedness. § 

This however is not a doctrine taught in isolated 
passages. It is one of those fundamental truths 
which are taken for granted in almost every page 
of the Bible. The whole scheme of redemption 
supposes that man is a fallen being. Christ came 
to seek and to save the lost. He was announced 
as the Saviour of sinners. His advent and work 
have no meaning or value but upon the assumption 
that we are guilty, for he came to save his people 
from their sins ; to die the just for the unjust ; to 
bear our sins in his own body on the tree. Those 
>-ho have no sin, need no Saviour; those who do 

* Gal. i. 4. f John vii - 7 - * l John iv - 5 ' 

§ 1 John v. 19. 

sin. 57 

not deserve death, need no Redeemer. As the 
doctrine of redemption pervades the Scripture, so 
does the doctrine of the universal sinfulness of 

This doctrine is also assumed in all the Scrip- 
tural representations of what is necessary for ad- 
mission into heaven. All men, everywhere, are 
commanded to repent. But repentance supposes 
sin. Every man must be born again, in order to 
see the kingdom of God ; he must become a new 
creature ; he must be renewed after the image of 
God. Being dead in trespasses and in sins, he must 
be quickened, or made partaker of a spiritual life. 
In short it is the uniform doctrine of the Bible, that 
all men need both pardon and sanctification in order 
to their admission to heaven. It therefore teaches 
that all men are sinners. 

The Scriptures moreover teach that the sinfulness 
of men is deep seated ; or, consisting in a corrup- 
tion of the heart, it manifests itself in innumerable 
forms in the actions of the life. All the imagina- 
tions of man's heart are only evil continually.* 
God says of the human heart that it is deceitful above 
all things and desperately wicked.t All men, by 
nature are the children of wrath. ± And therefore 

* Gen vi. 5. f Jer. xvii. 9. t Eph. ii. 3. 

58 six. 

the Psalmist says, Behold I was shapen in iniquity, 
and in sin did my mother conceive me.* 

This corruption of our nature is the ground of 
the constant reference of every thing good in man 
to the Holy Spirit, and of everything evil, to his 
own nature. Hence in the language of the Bible, 
the natural man is a corrupt man ; and the spiritual 
man alone is good. Hence too the constant oppo- 
sition of the terms flesh and spirit; the former 
meaning our nature as it is apart from divine in- 
fluence, and the latter the Holy Spirit, or its im- 
mediate effects. To be in the flesh, to walk after 
the flesh, to mind the things of the flesh, are all 
Scriptural expressions descriptive of the natural 
state of men. It is in this sense of the term that 
Paul says, In my flesh there dwelleth no good 
thing ;t and that our Saviour said, That which is 
born of the flesh is flesh.J 

This humbling doctrine is, moreover, involved in 
all the descriptions which the Bible gives of the 
nature of that moral change which is necessary to 
salvation. It is no mere outward reformation ; it 
is no assiduous performance of external duties. 
It is a regeneration ; a being born of the Spirit ; a 
new creation ; a passing from death unto life. A 

• Ps. li. 5. f Rom. vii. 18. * John iii. 6. 

sin. 59 

change never effected by the subject of it, but 
which has its source in God. Of no doctrine, 
therefore, is the Bible more full than of that which 
teaches that men are depraved and fallen beings, 
who have lost the image of God, and who must be 
created anew in Christ Jesus before they can see the 
kingdom of heaven. 

These Scriptural representations respecting the 
universality of sin and the corruption of our nature, 
are abundantly confirmed by experience and obser- 
vation. Men may differ as to the extent of their 
sinfulness, or as to the ill desert of their trans- 
gressions, but they cannot be insensible to the fact 
that they are sinners, or that they have sustained 
this character as long as they have had any self- 
knowledge. As far back as they can go in the 
history of their being, they find the testimony of 
conscience against them. As this consciousness of 
sin is universal, and as it exists as soon as we have 
any knowledge of ourselves, it proves that we are 
fallen beings ; that we have lost the moral image 
of God with which our first parents were created. 
It is a fact, of which every human being is a wit- 
ness, that our moral nature is such that instead of 
seeking our happiness in God and holiness, we 
prefer the creature to the creator. It would be 
just as unreasonable to assert that this was the 
original, proper state of man, as to say our reason 

60 sin. 

was sound, if it universally, immediately and infal- 
libly led us into wrong judgments upon subjects 
fairly within its competency. 

The proof, that man is a depraved being, is as 
strong as that he is a rational, a social, or a moral 
being. He gives no signs of reason at his birth ; 
but he invariably manifests his intellectual nature 
as soon as he becomes capable of appreciating the 
objects around him or of expressing the operations 
of his mind. No one supposes reason to be the 
result of education, or the effect of circumstances, 
merely because its operations cannot be detected 
from the first moment of existence. The uni- 
formity of its manifestation under all circumstances, 
is regarded as sufficient proof that it is an attribute 
of our nature. 

The same remark may be made respecting the 
social affections. No one of them is manifested 
from the beginning of our course in this world ; 
yet the fact that men in all ages and under all cir- 
cumstances, evince a disposition to live in society ; 
that all parents love their children, that all people 
have more or less sympathy in the joys and sorrows 
of their fellow men, is proof that these affections 
are not acquired but original, that they belong to 
our nature and are characteristic of it. 

In like manner the apostle reasons from the fact 
that all men perform moral acts and experience the 

SIN. Gl 

approbation or disapprobation of conscience, that 
they have, by nature, and not from example, in- 
struction, or any other external influence, but in 
virtue of their original moral constitution, a law 
written on their hearts, a sense of right and wrong - . 
But if the uniform occurrence of any moral acts is a 
proof of a moral nature, the uniform occurrence 
of wrong moral acts is a proof of a corrupt moral 
nature. If the universal manifestation of reason 
and of the social affections, proves man to be by 
nature a rational and social being, the universal 
manifestation of sinful affections proves him to be 
by nature a sinful being. When we say that any 
one is a bad man, we mean that the predominant 
character of his actions proves him to have bad prin- 
ciples or dispositions. And when we say that man's 
nature is depraved we mean that it is a nature whose 
moral acts are wrong. And this uniformity of 
wrong moral action is as much a proof of a de- 
praved nature, as the acts of a bad man are a proof 
of the predominance of evil dispositions in his 
heart. This is the uniform judgment of men, 
and is sanctioned by the word of God. A good 
tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a cor- 
rupt tree bring forth good fruit. Therefore by their 
fruits shall ye know them. This illustration was 
used by our Saviour with the express design of 
teaching that the predominant character of the acts 

62 sin. 

of men, is to be taken as a certain index of the 
state of the heart ; and hence the uniform occur- 
rence of sin in all men is a certain evidence of the 
corruption of their nature. Indeed there is no one 
fact with regard to human nature, which conscious- 
ness and observation more fully establish than 
that it is depraved. 

Section II. The sins of men are numerous and aggra- 

The Bible not only teaches that all men are sin- 
ners, and that the evil is deeply seated in their 
hearts, but moreover that their sinfulness is very 
great. The clearest intimation which a lawgiver 
can give of his estimate of the evil of transgres- 
sion is the penalty which he attaches to the viola- 
tion of his laws. If he is wise and good, the 
penalty will be a true index of the real demerit of 
transgression ; and in the case of God, who is infi- 
nitely wise and good, the punishment which he 
denounces against sin, must be an exact criterion 
of its ill-desert. If we are unable to see that sin 
really deserves what God has declared to be its 
proper punishment, it only shows that our judg- 
ment differs from his ; and that it should thus differ 
is no matter of surprise. We cannot know all 
the reasons which indicate the righteousness of the 

six. 63 

divine threatenings. We can have no adequate 
conception of the greatness, goodness and wisdom 
of the Being against whom we sin ; nor of the evil 
which sin is suited to produce ; nor of the perfect 
excellence of the law which we transgress. That 
sin therefore appears to us a less evil than God de- 
clares it to be, is no evidence that it is really un- 
deserving of his wrath and curse. 

There is a still more operative cause of our low 
estimate of the evil of sin. The more depraved 
a man is, the less capable is he of estimating the 
heinousness of his transgressions. And the man 
who in one part of his career, looked upon certain 
crimes with abhorrence, comes at last to regard 
them with indifference. That we are sinners 
therefore, is a sufficient explanation of the fact, 
that we look upon sin in a very different light from 
that in which it is presented in the word of God. 
Nothing then can be more reasonable than that we 
6hould bow before the judgment of God, and ac- 
knowledge that sin really deserves the punishment 
which he has declared to be its due. That punish- 
ment is so awful, that nothing but a profound 
reverence for God, and some adequate conception 
of the evil of sin, can produce a sincere acquiescence 
in its justice. Yet nothing can be more certain 
than that this punishment is the proper measure of 
the ill-desert of sin. 

64 six. 

The term commonly employed to designate this 
punishment is death ; death not merely of the 
body, but of the soul ; not merely temporal but 
eternal. It is a comprehensive term therefore to 
express all the evils in this world and the world to 
come, which are the penal consequences of sin. 
In this sense it is to be understood in the threat- 
ening made to our first parents ; in the day thou 
eatest thereof thou shalt surely die ;* and when 
the prophet says, The soul that sinneth it shall die ;t 
and when the Apostle says, The wages of sin is 
death 4 The same general idea is expressed by 
the word curse, As many as are of the law 
are under the curse ; for it is written, cursed is 
every one that continueth not in all things written 
in the book of the law to do them ;§ and also by 
the Avord wrath, We were by nature the chil- 
dren of wrath, || The wrath of God is revealed 
from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteous- 
ness of men.^[ 

These and similar passages teach that sinners 
are the objects of the divine displeasure, and that 
this displeasure will certainly be manifested. As 
God is infinitely good and the fountain of all bles- 
sedness, his displeasure must be the greatest of all 

* Gen. ii. 17. f E*ek. xviii. 4. \ Rom. vi. 23. 

§ Gal. iii. 10. || ii. 3. % Rom. i. 18. 

sin. 65 

evils. The Scriptures, however, in order to impress 
this truth more deeply upon our minds, employ the 
strongest terms human language affords, to set 
forth the dreadful import of God's displeasure. 
Those who obey not the gospel, it is said, shall be 
punished with everlasting destruction from the 
presence of the Lord and from the glory of his 
power.* Our Saviour says, The wicked shall be 
cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be 
quenched ; where their worm dieth not and the fire 
is not quenched.t At the last great day, he tells 
us, the judge shall say to those upon his left hand, 
Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, pre- 
pared for the devil and his angels. t The Son of 
man shall send forth his angels, and they shall 
gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, 
and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into 
a furnace of fire ; there shall be wailing and gnash- 
ing of teeth. § In the last day, all that are in 
their graves shall hear his voice and shall come 
forth ; they that have done good unto the resurrec- 
tion of life, and they that have done evil unto the 
resurrection of damnation ;j| or as it is expressed 
in Daniel, If to shame and everlasting contempt. 
Whatever explanation may be given of the terms 

* 2 Thess. 1, 9. f Mark. ix. 43, 44. * Matt. xxv. 41. 

§ Matt. riii. 41, 42. fl John v. 29. 1 Daniel xii. 2. 


66 sin. 

employed in these and many similar passages, there 
can be no doubt that they are intended to convey 
the idea of endless and hopeless misery. Whence 
this misery shall arise, or wherein it shall consist, 
are questions of minor importance. It is sufficient 
that the Scriptures teach that, the sufferings here 
spoken of, are in degree inconceivably great and 
in duration endless. The most fearful exhibition 
given of the future state of the impenitent, is that 
which presents them as reprobates, as abandoned to 
the unrestrained dominion of evil. The repressing 
influence of conscience, of a probationary state, of 
a regard to character, of good example, and above 
all of the Holy Spirit, will be withdrawn, and un- 
mingled malignity, impurity and violence constitute 
the character and condition of those who finally 
perish. The wicked are represented as constantly 
blaspheming God, while they gnaw their tongues 
with pain.* The God who pronounces this doom 
upon sinners, is he who said, As I live I have no 
pleasure in the death of the wicked. The most 
fearful of these passages fell from the lips of the 
Lamb of God, who came to die that we might not 
perish, but have eternal life. 

It must be remembered that it is not against tin, 
chief of sinners that this dreadful punishment is 

* Rev. xvi. 10. 

sin. C7 

denounced. It is against sin, one sin, any sin. 
Cursed is every one that continucth not in all 
things written in the book of the law to do them.* 
Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet 
offend in one point, he is guilty of all.t As 
far as we know, the angels were punished for their 
first offence. Adam and his race fell by one trans- 
gression. Human governments act on the same 
principle. If a man commit murder, he suffers 
death for the one offence. If he is guilty of treason, 
he finds no defence in his freedom from other 
crimes. Sin is apostasy from God; it breaks our 
communion with him, and is the ruin of the soul. 
The displeasure of God against sin and his fixed 
determination to punish it, are also manifested by the 
certain connexion which he has established between 
sin and suffering. It is the undeniable tendency 
of sin to produce misery ; and although in this 
world the good are not always more happy than the 
wicked, this only shows that the present is a state 
of trial and not of retribution. It affords no evi- 
dence to contradict the proof of the purpose of 
God to punish sin, derived from the obvious and 
necessary tendency of sin to produce misery. 
This tendency is as much a law of nature as any 
other law with which we are acquainted. Men 

* Gal. iii. 10. f James ii. 10. 



flatter themselves that they will escape the evil 
consequences of their transgressions by appealing 
to the mercy of God, and obtaining a suspension 
of this law in their behalf. They might as reasona- 
bly expect the law of gravitation to be suspended 
for their convenience. He that soweth to the 
flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption, as cer- 
tainly as he who sows tares shall reap tares. The 
only link which binds together causes and effects 
in nature, is the will of God ; and the same will, 
no less clearly revealed, connects suffering with 
sin. And this is a connexion absolutely indissolu- 
ble save by the mystery of redemption. 

To suspend the operation of a law of nature, (as to 
stop the sun in his course,) is merely an exercise of 
power. But to save sinners from the curse of the 
law required that Christ should be made a curse 
for us ; that he should bear our sins in his own 
body on the tree ; that he should be made sin for 
us and die the just for the unjust. It would be a 
reflection on the wisdom of God to suppose that 
he would employ means to accomplish an end more 
costly than that end required. Could our redemp- 
tion have been effected by corruptible things, as 
silver or gold, or could the blood of bulls or of 
goats have taken away sin, who can believe that 
Christ would have died ? The apostle clearly 
teaches that it is to make the death of Christ vain, 


to affirm that our salvation could have been other- 
wise secured.* Since, then, in order to the pardon 
of sin, the death of Christ was necessary, it is 
evident that the evil of sin in the sight of God 
must be estimated by the dignity of him who 
died for our redemption. Here we approach the 
most mysterious and awful doctrine of the Bible. 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word 
was with God, and the Word was God. All 
things were made by him ; and without him was 
not any thing made that was made. And the word 
was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld 
his glory as the only begotten of the Father full of 
grace and truth. t God therefore was manifested 
in the flesh. He who being in the form of God, 
thought it not robbery to be equal with God ; made 
himself of no reputation, and took upon him the 
form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of 
men ; and being found in fashion as a man, he hum- 
bled himself and became obedient unto death, eve* 1 
the death of the cross. i; He then — who is declared 
to be the brightness of the Father's glory and the 
express image of his person, upholding all things 
by the word of his power; whom all the angels 
are commanded to worship ; of whom the Scrip- 
tures say, Thy throne O God is for ever and ever, 

* Gal ii. 21. f John i. 1,3, 14. * Phil. ii. 6, 7. 

70 sin. 

Thou Lord in the beginning hast laid the foundation 
of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy 
hands; They shall perish, but thou remainest ; they 
shall wax old as doth a garment ; and as a vesture 
shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed ; 
but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail — 
even He, who is God over all and blessed forever, 
inasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh 
and blood, himself also took part of the same ; that 
through death he might destroy him that had the 
power of death, that is the Devil, and deliver them 
who through fear of death were all their lifetime 
subject to bondage. 

It is the doctrine of the Bible that the infinite 
and eternal Son of God assumed our nature, that he 
might redeem us from the curse of the law by being 
made a curse for us. It is obvious that no severity 
of mere human suffering ; no destroying deluge ; 
no final conflagration, not hell itself can present 
such a manifestation of the evil of sin and of the 
justice of God as the cross of his incarnate Son. 
It declares in language which is heard by the whole 
intelligent universe, that sin deserves God's wrath 
and curse, and that none who refuse submission to 
the appointed method of pardon, can escape its 

The penalty then which God lias attached to the 
violation of his law, the certainty with which that 

SIN. 71 

penalty is inflicted, the doom of the fallen angels, 
the consequences of Adam's sin, and above all the 
death of Christ, are manifestations of the evil of 
sin in the estimation of God, which it is the highest 
infatuation for us to disregard. 

However obdurate our hearts maybe in reference 
to this subject, our reason is not so blind as not to 
see that our guilt must be exceedingly great. We 
cannot deny that all the circumstances which ag- 
gravate the heinousness of sin concur in our case. 
The law which we transgress is perfectly good. It 
is the law of God ; the law of right and reason. 
It is the expression of the highest excellence ; it is 
suited to our nature, necessary to our perfection 
and happiness. Opposition to such a law must 
be in the highest degree unreasonable and wicked. 

This law is enforced not only by its own excel- 
lence but by the authority of God. Disregard of 
this authority is the greatest crime of which a crea- 
ture is capable. It is rebellion against a being 
whose right to command is founded on his infinite 
superiority, his infinite goodness and his absolute 
propriety in us as his creatures. It is apostasy 
from the kingdom of God to the kingdom of Satan. 
There is no middle ground between the two. Every 
one is either the servant of God, or the servant of 
the devil. Holiness is the evidence of our allegiance 
to our maker, sin is the service of Satan. Could 

72 sin. 

we form any adequate conception of these two 
kingdoms, of the intrinsic excellence of the one 
and the absolute evil of the other, of the blessedness 
attendant on the one and the misery connected with 
the other ; could we in short bring heaven and hell in 
immediate contrast, we might have some proper 
view of the guilt of this apostasy from God. It is 
the natural tendency of our conduct to degrade 
ourselves and others, to make Eden like Sodom, 
and to kindle every where the fire that never shall 
be quenched. This cannot be denied, for moral 
evil is the greatest of all evils and the certain cause 
of all others. He therefore who sins is not only 
a rebel against God, but a malefactor, an enemy to 
the highest good of his fellow creatures. 

Again, our guilt is great because our sins are ex- 
ceedingly numerous. It is not merely outward 
acts of unkindness and dishonesty -with which we 
are chargeable, our habitual and characteristic state 
of mind is evil in the sight of God. Our pride, 
vanity, indifference to his will and to the welfare 
of others, our selfishness, our loving the creature 
more than the Creator, are continuous violations of 
his law. We have never, in any one moment of 
our lives, been or done what that law requires us to be 
and to do. We have never had that delight in the 
divine perfections, that sense of dependence and 
obligation, that fixed purpose to do the will and 

sin. 73 

promote the glory of God, which constitute the love 
which is our first and highest duty. It is in this 
sense that mankind are said to be totally depraved ; 
they are entirely destitute of supreme love to God. 
Whatever else they may have is as nothing while 
tins is wanting. They may be affectionate fathers 
or kind masters, or dutiful sons and daughters, but 
they are not obedient children of God ; they have 
not those feelings towards God which constitute 
their first and greatest duty, and without which 
they are always transgressors. The man who is a 
rebel against his righteous sovereign, and whose 
heart is full of enmity to his person and govern- 
ment, may be faithful to his associates and kind to 
his dependents, but he is always and increasingly 
guilty as it regards his ruler. Thus we are always 
sinners ; we are at all times and under all circum- 
stances in opposition to God, because we are never 
what his law requires us to be. If we have never 
loved him supremely ; if we have never made it 
our governing purpose to do his will ; if we have 
never been properly grateful for all his mercies ; if 
we have never made his glory, but some other and 
lower object, the end of our actions ; then our lives 
have been an unbroken series of transgressions. 
Our sins arc not to be numbered by the conscious 
violations of duty ; they are as numerous as the 
moments of our existence. 

74 sin. 

l( the permanent moral dispositions of a man are 
evil, it must follow that his acts of transgression 
will be past counting 1 up. Every hour there is some 
work of evil, some wrong thought, some bad feel- 
ing, some improper word, or some wicked act, to 
add to the number of his offences. The evil ex- 
ercise of an evil heart is like the ceaseless swinging 
of the pendulum. The slightest review of life 
therefore is sufficient to overwhelm us with the 
conviction of the countless multitude of our trans- 
gressions. It is this which constitutes our exceed- 
ing sinfulness in the sight of God. While con- 
science sleeps, or our attention is directed to other 
subjects, the number of our transgressions grows 
like the unnoticed pulsations of our heart. It is 
not until we pause and call ourselves to an account, 
that we see how many feelings have been wrong; 
how great is the distance at which we habitually 
live from God, and how constant is our want of 
conformity to his will. It was this that forced the 
Psalmist to cry, Mine iniquities have taken hold 
upon me, so that I am not able to look up, they 
are more than the hairs of my head, therefore my 
heart faileth me. 

Again, we may judge of the greatness of our 
guilt before God, by considering the numerous re- 
straints of his truth, providence and spirit, which 
we habitually disregard. The simple fact that sin 

sin. 75 

is wrong, that conscience condemns it, is a constant 
and powerful restraint. We cannot avail ourselves 
of the plea of ignorance, as we have a perfect 
standard of duty in the law of God. We cannot 
resist the conviction that his commands are right- 
eous, yet, in despite of this conviction, we live in 
constant disobedience. 

We are, moreover, fully aware of the conse- 
quences of sin. We know the judgment of God 
that those who do such things are worthy of death, 
and yet continue our transgressions. We are sur- 
prised at the drunkard who indulges his fatal pas- 
sion in the very presence of ruin ; yet are blind to 
our own infatuation in continuing to disobey God 
in despite of threatened death. We stupidly dis- 
regard the certain consequences of our conduct, and 
awake only in time to see that madness is in our 
hearts. This insensibility, notwithstanding the 
occasional admonitions of conscience and the con- 
stant warnings of the word of God, constitutes a 
peculiar aggravation of our guilt. 

Nor are we more mindful of the restraining in- 
fluence of the love of God. We disregard the 
fact that the Being against whom we sin, is He 
to whom we owe our existence and all our enjoy- 
ments ; who has carried us in his arms, and crowned 
us with loving kindness and tender mercies ; who 
is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plen- 

76 sin. 

teous in mercy ; who has not dealt with us after 
our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniqui- 
ties, but has borne with our provocations, waiting 
that his goodness might lead us to repentance. 
We have despised his forbearance, deriving from 
it a motive to sin, as though he were slack con- 
cerning his promises, and would not accomplish his 
threatenings ; thus treasuring up for ourselves 
wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of 
the righteous judgment of God. Besides all this, 
w r e disregard the love of Christ. He came to save 
us from our sins, and we will not accept of his 
mediation, or reciprocate his love. There stands 
his cross, mutely eloquent ; at once an invitation 
and a warning. It tells us both of the love and 
justice of God. It assures us that he who spared 
not his own Son, is ready to be gracious. All this 
we disregard. We count the blood of the cove- 
nant, an unholy thing ; we act as if it were not the 
blood of the Son of God, shed for us for the re- 
mission of sins. Or, it may be, we turn the grace 
of God into licentiousness, and draw encouragement 
from the death of Christ to continue in sin. Tins 
unbelieving rejection of the Saviour involves guilt 
so peculiarly great, that it is often spoken of as the 
special ground of the condemnation of the world. 
lie that believeth not is condemned already, be- 
cause he hath not believed on the only begotten 


Son of God. When he, the Spirit of truth is conic, 
he shall convince the world of sin, because they 
believe not in me. If he that despised Mose.^' 
law died without mercy, under two or three wit- 
nesses, of how much sorer punishment, suppose 
ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden 
under foot the Son of God ! 

This great sin of rejecting Jesus Christ as a 
Saviour, it must be remembered, is an often repeated 
and long continued sin. It is also one which is 
chargeable not on the openly wicked merely, but 
upon those whom the world calls moral. They 
too resist the claims of the Son of God ; they too 
refuse his love and reject his offers. It was when 
all other messengers had failed, the Lord of the 
vineyard sent his Son to his disobedient servants, 
saying, They will reverence my Son. The guilt 
of thus rejecting Christ, will never be fully appre- 
ciated until the day when He shall sit on the throne 
and from his face the earth and heaven shall flee 
away and no place be found for them. 

Besides these restraints from without, we resist 
the still more powerful influence of the Spirit of 
God. That Spirit strives with all men ; suggest- 
ing truth and exciting conscience, expostulating 
and warning, and drawing men from sin to God. 
It is from Him that all good thoughts and right 
purposes do proceed. This spirit we quench ; we 

78 sin. 

resist his gracious influences, not once or twice, 
but a thousand times. Though he will not always 
strive with men, he strives long, and returns after 
many insulting rejections, repeating the warnings 
and invitations of mercy. All men are sensible of 
this divine influence, though they may not be aware 
of its origin. They know not whence proceed the 
serious thoughts, the anxious forebodings, the con- 
victions of truth, the sense of the emptiness of the 
world, the longing after security and peace of 
which they are conscious. God sends these admo- 
nitions even to those who are most contented with 
the world and most happy in their estrangement 
from himself. He leaves no man without a witness 
and a warning. These strivings of the Spirit are 
not only frequent, but often urgent. Almost every 
man can look back and see many instances in which 
an unseen hand was upon him, when a voice, not 
from man, has sounded in his ears, when feelings 
to which he was before a stranger were awakened 
in his breast, and when he felt the power of the 
world to come. The shadow of the Almighty has 
passed over him, and produced the conviction that 
God is, and that He is an avenger. 

From a review of what has been said it is plain 
that the Scriptures teach not only that all men are 
sinners, but that their corruption is radical, seated 
in their hearts, and that it is exceedingly great. 

s i n. 79 

The severity of the penalty which God has attached 
to transgression, the certainty of its infliction, the 
costliness of the sacrifice by which alone its pardon 
could be obtained, are all proofs of the evil of sin 
in the sight of God. The greatness of our per- 
sonal guilt is plain from the excellence of the law 
which we have violated ; from the authority and 
goodness of the Being whom we have offended, 
from the number of our sins, and from the power- 
ful restraints which we have disregarded. 



Section I. Sin, want of consideration, striving against 
the Spirit. 

The charge of sin is brought so directly in the 
word of God against every human being, and is so 
fully sustained by observation and experience, that 
the general indifference of men under so weighty 
an accusation is a fact which needs explanation. 
Indifference is no proof of innocence, any more 
than insensibility to pain is a proof of health. In 
ordinary cases indeed, a man cannot be ill without 
knowing it, but his sensations are a very unsafe 
criterion of the nature or danger of his disease. He 
may be most free from pain, when most in peril. 
In like manner, the indifference of men to their own 
sinfulness affords no presumption that their guilt is 
not great in the sight, of God. The absence of the 
immediate consciousness of guilt is no proof of in- 
nocence, unless attended by the joyful exercise of 
all right feelings. When accompanied by indif 



ference to duty and the indulgence of sin, it is the 
evidence of the depth of our depravity. All men 
assume this to be true in their judgments of those 
more wicked than themselves. To say of a man, he 
is a hardened wretch, is not the language of exten- 
uation or apology. It is the language of aggravated 
condemnation. Those who feel thus keenly with 
regard to others, that indifference is an aggravation 
of guilt, strangely imagine it to be, in their own 
case, a proof of comparative innocence. 

This insensibility of men, therefore, to the moral 
turpitude of their character in the sight of God, so 
far from being an indication of goodness, is the 
result and evidence of the extent of their corrup- 
tion. As in bodily disease when the seat of life is 
attacked, the sensibilities are weakened, so in the 
disease of sin, insensibility is one of its symptoms, 
and increases with the increase of the evil. Sin 
produces this effect both by blinding the mind and 
by hardening the heart. It obscures our apprehen- 
sions of the excellence of God and of his law, and it 
produces a callousness of feeling, so that what is seen 
is not regarded. Experience teaches us that a mere 
change in the state of the mind, produces an imme- 
diate and entire change in our apprehensions and feel- 
ings in reference to our own sins. The man who at 
one hour was indifferent as the most careless, at the 
next, is filled with astonishment and remorse. Others 


think his feelings unreasonable and exaggerated; he 
knows them to be rational and even inadequate. This 
is not the result of any hallucination or mistaken 
apprehensions of God or of his own character. It 
is the natural effect of an enlightened mind and of 
an awakened conscience. The ease and frequency 
with which the indifference of men to their guilt in 
the sight of God, is destroyed, is of itself a proof 
that their insensibility is not based upon truth ; that 
it is the effect of a darkened understanding and a 
hardened heart, and that though it may increase as 
sin gains the ascendency, it vanishes the moment 
the light and power of truth are let in upon the 

Besides this general cause of the indifference of 
men to the declarations of God regarding their sin- 
fulness, there are others which ought to be specified. 
When the prophet contemplated the impenitent 
unconcern of the people, he exclaimed, Israel doth 
not know, my people do not consider. And when 
God would rouse them to a sense of their guilt, ho 
says, Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, 
consider your ways. It is this want of considera- 
tion, more than any difficulty in arriving at the 
truth, which sets men in such opposition to God in 
their judgments of themselves, and which harden? 
them in their indifference. This inoonsidera- 
tion indeed is but an effect of the more generai 


cause already referred to, but it becomes in its turn 
a cause both of ignorance and unconcern. Men 
learn little upon any subject by intuition, and the 
knowledge of their own hearts is not to be obtained 
without painful self-examination. This self-know- 
ledge is the subject to which men generally devote 
the least attention. They are engrossed by the 
cares or pleasures of the world. They either float 
tly down the stream of life, or are hurried along 
its troubled course, with scarcely an hour given to 
serious reflection. That under such circumstances 
men should be ignorant of themselves and indiffer- 
ent to their character in the sight of God, is not 
only natural but unavoidable. It is however a 
lamentable thing that they should make a judgment 
of themselves formed without consideration, the 
ground of their conduct, and confide in it in oppo- 
sition to the judgment of God. If they will judge, 
let them at least consider. If they will act on 
their own conclusions respecting themselves, let 
them at least examine and decide deliberately, and 
not venture every thing on a hasty, unconsidered 
estimate of their character, which, it may be, could 
not stand, even in their own judgment, a moment's 

Men, however, are not merely inconsiderate, they 
often make direct efforts to suppress the rising con- 
viction of guilt and danger. The testimony of God 


against them is so plain ; the authority of his law 
is so obvious ; their want of conformity to it is so 
glaring, and the influences of the Spirit are so 
general and frequent, that the conviction of sin can 
hardly fail to obtrude itself even upon those who 
in general are the most unconcerned. It is, how- 
ever, a painful conviction, and therefore, instead of 
being cherished, it is disregarded or suppressed. 
The mind refuses to dwell upon the subject, or to 
examine the evidence of guilt, but either turns to 
other objects, or, by some act of levity or transgres- 
sion, grieves away the Spirit of God and hardens 
itself in unconcern. This is a frequently recur- 
ring experience in the history of most men. They 
have more anxious thoughts than they allow their 
most intimate friends to suspect; they often mask 
an aching heart with a smiling face. They have a 
quick foresight of what such feelings must lead to, 
if cherished. They see, at once, that they cannot 
cultivate such sentiments, and live as they have 
been accustomed to do. There are pleasures, and 
it may be sins, which must be abandoned. There 
are companions who must be avoided. There is 
the opposition of friends, the ridicule of associates, 
the loss of rank, to be encountered. All the hor 
rors of a religious life present themselves to the 
imagination, and frighten the half awakened from 
considering their ways, which they know to be 


but the first step in what appears a long and painful 
journey. They therefore struggle against their 
convictions, and in general master them. This 
struggle is sometimes short; at others, it is pro- 
tracted and painful. Victory however comes at 
last, and the soul regains its wonted unconcern. 
Such persons little know what they are doing. 
They little suspect that they are struggling to elude 
the grasp of mercy ; that they are striving against 
the Spirit of God, who would draw them from the 
paths of destruction, and guide them into the way 
of life. 

Section II. Sophistical objections against the doctrine 
of the Bible. 

Another cause of the indifference of men may 
be found in the objections which they urge against 
the truth. Such objections indeed are more fre- 
quently and effectually urged to perplex the advo- 
cates of religion, than to quiet the uneasiness of 
conscience. Still men endeavour to impose upon 
themselves as well as to embarrass others. And 
the objections referred to, doubtless are often obsta- 
cles in the way of the inquirer ; or opiates to the 
consciences of those who desire to be deceived. It 
is objected that we are what God made us; that 
our character is determined either by our original 


constitution, or by the circumstances in which we 
are placed, and therefore we cannot be responsible 
for it ; that inasmuch as neither our belief nor our 
affections are under the control of the will, we 
cannot be accountable for either ; that it is useless 
to use means to escape the judgment of God, since 
what is to be, will be ; that we must wait till God 
sees fit to change our hearts, since it is declared in 
Scripture to be his work. 

It will be observed that these and similar objec- 
tions relate to the reconciliation of different truths, 
and not to their separate validity or evidence. The 
proposition that men are responsible for their moral 
character, taken by itself, is so capable of demon- 
stration, that all men do in fact believe it. Every 
man feels it to be true with regard to himself, and 
knows it to be true with regard to others. All self- 
condemnation and self-approbation rest on the con- 
sciousness of this truth. All our judgments regard- 
ing the moral conduct of others are founded on the 
same assumption. It is, therefore, one of those 
truths which is included in the universal conscious- 
ness of men, and has in all ages and nations been 
assumed as certain. Men cannot really doubt it, if 
they would. On the other hand, it is no less cer- 
tain that our character does depend in a measure 
upon circumstances beyond our control ; upon our 
original constitution, upon education, upon prevalent 


habits and opinions, upon divine influence, &c. 
All this is proved by experience and observation. 
Here then are two facts resting on independent 
evidence, each certain and each by itself securing 
general assent. Yet we see men constantly disposed 
to bring up the one against the other ; and argue 
against their responsibility, because they are de- 
pendent, or against their dependence, because they 
are responsible. 

In like manner the proposition that man is a free 
agent commands immediate and universal assent, 
because it is an ultimate fact of consciousness. It 
can no more be doubted than we can doubt our own 
existence. Side by side however with this inti- 
mate persuasion of our moral liberty, lies the con- 
viction, no less intimate, of our inability to change, 
by merely willing to do so, either our belief or our 
affections, for which, as before stated, every man 
knows himself to be responsible. Perhaps few 
men, — perhaps no man, — can see the harmony of 
these truths ; yet they are truths, and as such are 
practically acknowledged by all men. 

Again, all experience teaches us that we live in 
a world of means, that knowledge, religion, happi- 
ness, are all to be sought in a certain way, and that 
to neglect the means is to lose the end. It is, how- 
ever, no less true that there is no necessary or cer- 
tain connection between the means and the end ; 


that God holds the result in his own hands and 
decides the issues according to his sovereign plea- 
sure. In all the ordinary affairs of life men submit 
to this arrangement and do not hesitate to use 
means, though the end is uncertain and beyond 
their control. But in religion, they think this 
uncertainty of the result a sufficient excuse for 

It is obvious that this method of reasoning, or 
rather of cavilling, which consists in bringing up 
one well established truth against another, is un- 
worthy of a rational being. We ought to, (and 
practically, we must) receive every truth on its own 
evidence. If we cannot reconcile one fact with 
another, it is because of our ignorance ; better in- 
structed men or higher orders of beings may see 
their perfect harmony. Our want of such know- 
ledge does not in trie least impair the force of the 
evidence on which they separately rest. In every 
department of knowledge the number of irrecon- 
cileable truths depends on the progress of the stu- 
dent. That loose matter flies off from revolving 
bodies, and that every thing adheres to the surface 
of the earth, notwithstanding its rapid revolution, 
are irreconcilable facts to one man, though not to 
another. That two rays of light should produce 
darkness, or two sounds cause silence, are facts 
which many may be entirely unable to reconcile 


with other facts of which they are certain, while 
the philosopher sees not only their consistency, but 
that they are the necessary consequences of the 
same cause. 

If the evidence of the constant revolution of the 
earth round its axis were presented to a man, it 
would certainly be unreasonable in him to deny 
the fact, merely because he could not reconcile it 
with the stability of every thing on the earth's sur- 
face. Or if he saw two rays of light made to 
produce darkness, must he resist the evidence of 
his senses because he knows that two candles give 
more light than one ? Men do not commonly act 
thus irrationally in physical investigations. They 
let each fact stand on its own evidence. They strive 
to reconcile them and are happy when they succeed. 
But they do not get rid of difficulties by denying 

If in the department of physical knowledge we 
are obliged to act upon the principle of receiving 
every fact upon its own evidence, even when unable 
to reconcile one with another, it is not wonderful 
that this necessity should be imposed upon us in 
those departments of knowledge, which are less 
within the limits of our powers. It is certainly 
irrational for a man to reject all the evidence of the 
spirituality of the soul, because he cannot reconcile 
with that doctrine the fact that a disease of the 


body disorders the mind. Must I do violence to 
my nature in denying the proof of design afforded 
by the human body, because I cannot account for 
the occasional occurrence of deformities of struc- 
ture ? Must I harden my heart against all the 
evidence of the benevolence of God, which streams 
upon me in a flood of light from all his works, be- 
cause I may not know how to reconcile that benevo- 
lence with the existence of evil ? Must I deny my 
free agency, the most intimate of all convictions, 
because I cannot see the consistency between the 
freeness of an act and the certainty of its occur- 
rence ? Must I deny that I am a moral being, the 
very glory of my nature, because I cannot change 
my character at will ? 

It is impossible for any man to act, in any depart- 
ment of knowledge, upon the principle, on whicli 
these cavilling objections to religion are founded. 
From youth to age we are obliged to take each fact 
as it comes, upon its own evidence, and reconcile it 
with other facts, as best we may. 

The unreasonableness of this method of arguing 
is further evident from the consideration that if it 
were universally adopted it would render all pro- 
gress in knowledge impossible. It would be tanta- 
mount to a resolution to know nothing until we 
know all things ; for our knowledge at first is con- 
fined to isolated facts. To classify and harmonize 


these facts, is the slow work of the student's life 
This is a most benevolent arrangement of provi- 
dence. It at once stimulates the desire of knowledge 
and imposes on us the constant exercise of faith. 
And it is in virtue of these two important princi- 
ples of our nature that all valuable knowledge is 
obtained. The desire of knowing not merely facts, 
but their relations and harmony, leads to the con- 
stant effort to increase the number of known truths 
and to obtain an insight into their nature ; and the 
necessity we are under of believing what we cannot 
understand, or cannot reconcile, cultivates the habit 
of faith ; of faith in evidence, faith in the laws of 
our nature, faith in God. It is thus our heavenly 
Father leads us along the paths of knowledge ; and 
he who refuses to be thus led, must remain in 
ignorance. God deals with us as children; though 
as rational children. He does not require us to 
believe without evidence ; but he does require us 
to believe what we cannot understand, and what we 
cannot reconcile with other parts of knowledge. 
This necessity of implicit faith is not confined to 
any one department of knowledge, but as already 
stated, is constantly demanded with regard to all. 
The simplest objects in the physical world are sur- 
rounded with mysteries. A blade of grass has 
wonders about it which no philosopher can clear 
up ; no man can tell what fixes the type of each 


species of plant or animal ; by what process the 
materials of leaf and flower are selected and ar- 
ranged ; whence the beautiful tints are borrowed or 
how applied ; what conducts the silent process of 
formation of the eye or hand. Every thing we see is, 
even to the most enlightened, the index of some- 
thing unknown and inscrutable. 

If the visible and tangible forms of matter are 
replete with things past finding out, what may we 
expect when we turn our eyes on the world of 
Spirits? Even that little world in bur own bosoms 
which is pervaded by our own consciousness, the 
facts of which are most intimately known, is full 
of wonders ; of phenomena which we can neither 
comprehend nor reconcile. Who can understand 
the secret union of the soul and body, which es- 
tablishes their reciprocal influence ? Why should 
the emotion of shame suffuse the check, or that of 
fear send the blood to the heart? Why does the 
soul suffer if the body be injured ? What concep- 
tion can we form either of matter or mind which 
is consistent with their mutual influence and com- 
munion ? The operations of our rational and moral 
faculties are not less beyond our comprehension. 
We know certain facts, but the reason of them, or 
their consistency we cannot understand. We know 
that certain feelings follow certain perceptions ; the 
feeling of confidence the perception of truth ; the 


feeling of pleasure the perception of beauty ; the 
feeling of approbation the perception of what is 
morally right. Why these feelings should thus 
rise no one can tell. Such are the laws of our being ; 
laws which we did not originate and which we 
cannot control. That is, we cannot prevent the 
feeling of confidence or faith, attending the percep- 
tion of truth, nor that of pleasure, the perception of 
beauty, nor that of approbation, the perception of 
moral rectitude. Yet the consciousness of self- 
agency mingles with all these operations. We are 
free in being subject to the laws of our own nature. 
The necessity under which we form such judg- 
ments or exercise such feelings produces no sense 
of bondage. In these involuntary or necessary 
judgments or feelings, however, our moral character 
is largely concerned. If two men see an act of 
cruelty, and the one smiles at it, and the other is 
indignant, no sophistry can prevent our condemn- 
ing the former and approving the latter. The feeling 
excited by the act arises in each spontaneously and 
by an inward necessity which neither, at the mo- 
ment, can control. The knowledge of this fact 
does not interfere with our judgment in the case. 
And that judgment is not merely that the feeling 
which produced the smile, is an indication of a 
state of mind, or of previous conduct worthy of 
■disapprobation, but that the feeling itself was 


wrong. Moreover the feeling of disapprobation 
which arises thus spontaneously in our bosoms, at 
this delight in suffering, is itself a moral feeling. 
We should condemn ourselves if it did not arise, 
we approve ourselves because of it. There are 
therefore, in our own breasts, enigmas which we 
cannot solve, depths which we cannot fathom. 
Must we then, in order to be rational, deny these 
facts ? Must we maintain that our nature is an 
illusion and our constitution a falsehood ? Shall 
we, on the one hand, deny that we are subject to 
the laws of our being, or, on the other, that the acts 
which result from those laws are not our own, do 
not express our character nor involve responsibility ? 
This happily cannot be done, for faith in our own 
consciousness is one of the laws of our nature from 
which we can never effectually emancipate our- 

If then there are in our own nature so many 
things which we cannot comprehend, how can we 
expect to understand God, to know the reasons and 
relations of his acts, or to be able to reconcile in 
all cases his works with his attributes 1 To do this 
would require a more thorough knowledge of God 
than we have of ourselves. It would require a 
comprehension of his purposes and of the mode in 
which he accomplishes them. It would require in 
short a knowledge which no creature can possess. 


For what man knoweth the things of a man, save 
the spirit of man that is in him ? Even so the things 
of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 
We then, who are the least and lowest of God's 
rational creatures, may well expect to be required 
to live by faith; to receive, as true, on his authority, 
much that we cannot understand and cannot recon- 
cile. It is not however blind belief which is re- 
quired of us. We are not required to believe any 
thing without adequate evidence ; but on the other 
hand we are not allowed to reject any thing simply 
because we cannot understand it. We must not 
reject the existence of God, because we cannot 
comprehend self-existence ; we must not deny his 
eternity, because we cannot conceive of duration 
without succession, nor his omnipresence, because 
we cannot see how a being can be equally and en- 
tirely in all places at the same time ; nor om- 
niscience, because we cannot see how free acts can 
be foreknown. In like manner we are not required 
to believe in God's goodness without abundant 
evidence of his benevolence ; but we are re- 
quired to believe it, whether we can reconcile it 
Avith the existence of evil or not. We are not 
required to believe in the providence of God without 
evidence, but our being unable to reconcile his 
government with our liberty, is no rational ground 
of unbelief. The same remark might be made with 


regard to the apostasy of our race and the corrup- 
tion of our nature ; our inability and obligation to 
obedience ; the necessity of divine influence and 
the use of means. We are required to believe 
nothing on these or any other subjects without ade- 
quate proof, but we are not allowed to make our 
ignorance of the relations of these truths an excuse 
for either unbelief or disobedience. God gives to 
the glow worm light enough to see its own path, 
though not enough to dispel the darkness of the 
night. Thus too he shows us where to put our 
foot down in each successive step towards heaven, 
though he may not enable us to comprehend the 
Almighty unto perfection. 

It may be said that we have not answered one of 
all the objections to which reference has so often 
been made. We have done far better than answer 
them, if we have made the reader feel the necessity 
of an humble, trustful spirit towards God. This is 
the appropriate state of mind for every learner, 
whether in the school of nature or of Christ. It 
is that state which the feebleness of our powers and 
the difficulty of the things to be learned, render 
not only reasonable but indispensable. A second 
impression which we have laboured to produce is, 
that it is one of our primary duties to submit to the 
truth, to form the purpose and to cherish the habit 
of yielding the mind to evidence. Faith without 

TO THE CHARGE OF 31?*. 97 

evidence is irrational ; but unbelief in despite of 
evidence is not less so. There is a great difference, 
in the temper of different men in relation to this 
subject. Some resist the truth as long as they can ; 
they cavil at it and oppose it. Others are candid 
and docile ; they are willing to admit the force of 
proof as far as they perceive it. This is the only 
way in which true knowledge can be obtained. It 
is thus the philosopher is accustomed to act. He 
carefully interrogates nature for facts ; these facts 
are received ; they are classified and harmonized 
as far as the investigator is able thus to reconcile 
thern. But he rejects none because he cannot make 
it fit into a system. He waits for further light. It 
is thus we are bound to act. We too are called 
upon to receive every truth upon its own evidence ; 
to harmonize our knowledge where we can, but to 
reject nothing simply because of our ignorance of 
its consistency with other truths. 

A third lesson which it is very important for us 
to learn is, what is adequate evidence of truth and 
when we are bound to rest satisfied. This may be 
a question which it is difficult to decide ; but as 
far as religion is concerned the case is sufficiently 
plain. By the laws of our being we are impera- 
tively required to confide in the well ascertained 
testimony of our senses ; to rely upon the veracity 
of our own consciousness ; to receive the unim- 


peachable testimony of our fellow men, and to 
abide by those truths which are matters of intuitive 
perception, or the necessary conclusions of reason. 
These are laws of belief impressed upon our con- 
stitution by our creator ; and are therefore the 
authoritative expressions of his will. To refuse 
obedience to these laws is, then, not only un- 
reasonable, it is rebellion against God. They are 
the adamantine bars by which he has closed up the 
w r ay to universal scepticism ; and those who break 
through them do but prematurely enter upon the 
outer darkness. We are obliged then as rational 
beings to receive every truth which rests upon the 
testimony of our senses, upon the authority of con- 
sciousness, the unimpeachable testimony of wit- 
nesses, or the intuitive perceptions or necessary 
deductions of reason. Whether we can systematize 
and reconcile all the truths thus arrived at, is a very 
different question. Our obligation to receive them 
does not rest upon this power, but upon the evi- 
dence afforded for each separate truth. Our con- 
sciousness tells us that we are sinners ; it also 
informs us of our helplessness. We may fight 
against one or the other of these truths as the 
ocean chafes the rocks. They cannot be moved. 
When the mind has been drugged with false phi- 
losophy, it may for a time disbelieve. But the 
infidelity lasts no longer than the intoxication. As 


soon as the man is sober, the truth re-appears in 
greater clearness and authority than ever. Nothing 
therefore can be eventually gained by resistance to 
the truth, and it is the part of wisdom to submit at 
once to the laws of belief which God has impressed 
upon our nature. 

Besides this rule of faith, (if it may be so called,) 
which God has given us in the constitution of our 
nature, we have his word and his providence, au- 
thenticated by all kinds of adequate testimony. 
There can be no higher ground of faith than the 
authority of God. Even confidence in the testimony 
of our senses or the dictates of consciousness, re- 
solves itself into confidence in the veracity of God, 
by whom the laws of nature have been established. 
Any truth therefore which is sustained by a well 
authenticated revelation of God, or upon the actual 
dispensations of his providence, must be considered 
as fully established ; and every objection which 
can be shown to militate against either, must be 
considered as fully answered. It was thus that the 
sacred writers answered objections. It was enough 
for them that God asserted any truth, or actually 
exercised any prerogative. Any further vindication 
they deemed unnecessary. We should act on the 
same principle and quietly submit to all that God 
says and to all he does. Some men complainingly 
ask, Why were we born? Surely it is enough that 


they are born. The fact cannot be denied, whether 
they can see the wisdom and design of their crea- 
tion or not. Or they ask, Why were we born in a 
state of sin, or in a world in which sin is universal 
and inevitable ? This, to human reason, may be a 
question impossible to answer. But as the fact 
stares us in face, is there any use in denying it ? 
But it is further asked, If we are born in such a 
state that either from our nature or circumstances 
sin is inevitable and universal, how can we be 
responsible ? Whatever difficulty there may be in 
showing how we are responsible, there is no doubt 
as to the fact. We feel ourselves to be responsible, 
and can no more free ourselves of the conviction 
than we can get rid of the consciousness of exist- 
ence. Where then is the wisdom of quarrelling 
with facts ? Why should we spend our lives like 
a wild beast in a cage forever chafing against the 
bars of its prison, which nevertheless remain ! Let 
us learn to submit to what we see to be true ; let us 
remember that our knowledge does not embrace all 
truth ; that things may be perfectly consistent with 
each other and with the attributes of God, though 
we may not see how. Our knowledge will con- 
tinually increase; and those facts which give us 
most difficulty will be found to he so analogous 
to others, the justice of which we are able lo re 
cognise, that if we never come to see all ihings in 


their harmony, we shall at least see that they must 
be consistent, being parts of that system which is 
every where luminous with the manifestations of 
the wisdom and love of God. Let us remember 
that we are children, the children of God, that he 
gives us abundant evidence of every thing which 
he requires us to believe, though he renders it ne- 
cessary for us to exercise confidence in him, to feel 
assured that what he says is true and that what he 
does is right; that though clouds and darkness may 
be round about him, justice and judgment are the 
habitation of his throne. 

The last general remark to be made in reference 
to these objections, is, that they are almost always 
dishonestly urged ; that is, they are urged with 
an inward conviction of their fallacy. As in 
many cases we know things to be true, which we 
cannot prove, so we often know objections to be 
fallacious which we cannot answer. If a man 
denies his own existence, or the distinction between 
right and wrong, it is in vain to argue with him. 
There can be nothing plainer than the truth denied, 
and therefore there can be no means of proving it. 
So also, if, to escape the charge of guilt, he denies 
his responsibility, he denies a fact of consciousness, 
■which cannot possibly be made plainer. Or if he 
plead his inability as an excuse for not repenting 
and obeying God, he presents a plea which he 


knows has no validity, lie knows that however 
real this inability may be, it is of such a nature as 
to afford no excuse for his continuing in sin, be- 
cause the conviction of its reality co-exists, in his 
own consciousness, with a sense of guilt. It is a 
plea therefore that does not avail at the bar of his 
own conscience, and he knows that it will not avail 
at the bar of God. In like manner, when men 
object to the strictness of the divine law, they do 
so with the inward persuasion of the righteousness 
of that law. Its requirements commend themselves 
to their conscience. They know that as God is 
infinitely wise and good, it is right that we should 
regard him with supreme affection, and implicitly 
submit to all his directions. 

All such cavilling objections, men know 10 
be false. God has not left himself without a 
witness. His voice has an authority which we 
cannot resist. When he tells us we are sinners, 
we know it to be true. When he tells us that we 
are worthy of death, we know it to be a righteous 
judgment. When he tells us that we have no 
strength to save ourselves and that our salvation 
depends upon his will, we know it to be even so. 
Whenever he reveals himself our mouths are shut, 
not from fear merely, but from an intimate per- 
suasion of the justice of all his ways. It is, 
then, both foolish and wicked to urge objections 


against the truth, which we ourselves know to be 
futile, whether this be done with a view to perplex 
our fellow-men, or in the vain endeavour to silence 
the accusations of conscience and the word of 

Such is the power of truth that neither the natural 
insensibility of the heart, nor the want of considera- 
tion, nor the direct efforts which men make to sup- 
press serious thoughts, nor the whole array of 
sophistical objections, can avail to counteract the 
secret conviction in the breast of the impenitent 
that they are in the road to eternal death. This con- 
viction is often very weak. When men are en- 
grossed in the concerns of this world, it is over- 
looked. Still it is there ; and it is ever and anon 
waking up to trouble them. Nor can the sugges- 
tion that God is merciful and, peradventure, will not 
be strict to mark iniquity, quiet this uneasy appre- 
hension. This suggestion, therefore, avails but little. 
It is counteracted by the sense of ill-desert, by the 
irrepressible conviction that those who commit sin 
are worthy of death ; by the plain declarations of 
Scripture, and by the evidence which even provi- 
dence affords that God is righteous. The vague 
apprehension of coming wrath, therefore, in despite 
of all their efforts, still haunts the path of the im- 
penitent. It chills their joys and gathers strength 


whenever the world seems to be receding from their 

Most men are driven to enter the plea of guilty 
before the bar of conscience, and content them- 
selves with praying for a delay of judgment. They 
are forced to admit that they are not fit to die in 
their present state ; that they are bound to comply 
with the requirement of the gospel, but they plead 
for time. Go thy way for this time ; when I have 
a more convenient season I will call for thee. Con- 
science is more easily deluded by this plea, which 
seems to admit its demands, than by any other. It 
is, therefore, the most dangerous snare for souls. 
Men do not reflect on the wickedness of pleading 
with God for liberty to continue, a little longer in 
sin ; to be allowed to break his commandments, to 
disregard his mercies, to slight his love, and to 
injure the cause of truth and righteousness. They 
do not think of the indignation with which they 
would reject such a plea from an ungrateful and 
disobedient son or servant. Nor do they remember 
that every such act of procrastination is a great 
aggravation of their guilt, as it supposes a con- 
sciousness of the evil of their present course and a 
recognition of the righteousness of all the demands 
of God. Nor do they consider that the difficulties 
which beset the path of their return to God are all 


increased by delay. If the work of repentance be 
irksome to-day, it will be more irksome to-morrow. 
If the heart be now hard, it will become yet harder 
by neglect. If the power of sin be now too strong 
for us to resist, it will become still stronger by in- 
dulgence. If the motives to repentance now fail to 
secure obedience, they will act with constantly in- 
creasing disadvantage hereafter. If God be justly 
displeased now, he will be more and more displeased 
by continued disobedience. Every day's procras- 
tination therefore increases, at a fearful rate, the 
probability of our final perdition. 



Section I. Knowledge of sin. Sense of personal ill- 

Though men are generally so indifferent to their 
sinfulness and danger, it often pleases God to arouse 
their attention, and to produce a deep conviction of 
the truth of all that the Bible teaches on these sub- 
jects. The effects of such conviction are very 
various, because they are modified by the tempera 
ment, the knowledge, the circumstances and con- 
comitant exercises of those who experience it. A 
sentence of death, if passed upon a hundred men, 
would probably affect no two of them alike. The 
mind of one might fasten particularly on the turpi- 
tude of his crime ; that of another upon the disgrace 
which he had incurred ; that of a third on the suf- 
ferings of his friends on his account; that of a fourth 
upon the horrors of death, or upon the fearfulness 
of appearing before God. All these and many other 
views, in endless combination, might operate with 



different degrees of force on each, and the result be 
still further modified by their physical and moral 
temperament, their knowledge and previous history. 
The endless diversity, therefore, in the experience 
of men when convinced of sin, is what might be 
expected ; and shows it to be impossible to give any 
description of such experience that shall be applica- 
ble to all cases. It will be sufficient briefly to state, 
what the Scriptures teach to be necessary on this 

There must be some correct knowledge of sin. 
It is clearly the doctrine of the Scriptures, con- 
firmed by universal experience, that men are natu- 
rally exceedingly blind on this subject. They have 
very inadequate ideas of the nature of this evil. 
Being ignorant of the holiness of God, they do not 
regard the opposition of sin to his nature so much 
as its effects upon themselves, or upon society. 
They judge of it by a wrong standard, and hence 
all their judgments respecting it are either erroneous 
or defective. Its real nature, or the real source of 
its evil in a great measure escapes their notice. 
Hence a thousand things which are unquestionably 
sinful, they in general overlook or disregard. It is 
not so much the state of the heart towards God, as 
the temper and deportment of one man towards his 
fellow men, that they consider. And therefore they 
often regard themselves and others as really good, 


though they may be destitute of anyone right senti- 
ment towards their maker. Being ignorant of the 
true nature of sin, they have no conception of the 
number of their transgressions. They are disposed 
to estimate them by the number of positive or overt 
acts of disobedience to the moral law; overlooking 
the habitual state of the heart, the uniform want of 
love, faith, and due reverence towards God. Nor 
have they any adequate idea of the guilt of sin. It 
is to them, as it exists in themselves, comparative- 
ly a trifle. Any great concern about it, they con- 
sider unreasonable ; and when manifested by others, 
hypocritical or fanatical. There is a deceitfulness in 
sin by which men are deluded so as to form wrong 
judgments as to its nature, its extent, its turpitude 
and power. This delusion must be dispelled. 
The eyes must be opened to see sin as it is repre- 
sented in the word of God, as an exceedingly evil 
and bitter thing, as extending not merely to overt 
acts or out-breaks of passion, but as deeply seated 
in the heart, polluting at the fountain the streams 
of life ; as really deserving the punishment which 
God has denounced against it ; and as having such 
hold upon the inward principles of our nature, that 
its power cannot be broken by any ordinary exer- 

This insight into the Scriptural account of sin is 
attended with a firm conviction of its truth ; and 


this conviction is inseparable from the kind of 
knowledge of which we are now speaking; because 
it is in fact nothing but an insight into the nature of 
the Scriptural doctrine as true, or as accordant with 
the moral nature which God has given us. Men 
therefore are not thus convinced either by argument 
or authority. They see and feel what God has 
declared concerning the nature and evil of sin to be 
true. Hence the conviction is irresistible even 
when most unwelcome. We often see it taking 
sudden and powerful possession of the soul, when 
conscience is roused from its torpor and assents to 
the declarations of God, with a force not to be re- 
sisted. When Paul reasoned of righteousness, 
temperance and judgment to come, Felix trembled. 
The truth, externally presented, found such a 
response in the bosom of the Roman governor that 
he could not disbelieve. This is in accordance with 
daily experience. The cavils of men against the 
unreasonable strictness of the divine law and their 
objections against the justice of its awful penalty 
vanish, in a moment, when their eyes are open to 
see what the law and its violation really are. And 
so long as the perception lasts, the conviction re- 
mains. If they can succeed in shutting out the 
light, and in quieting conscience roused by its in- 
trusion, they become as skeptical as ever on all 
these subjects. In many cases they succeed in 


closing their eyes on what they hate to see ; and 
regain their former unbelief. But often this is found 
to be impossible, especially on the near approach 
of death, or when God is about to pluck them as 
brands from the burning. Probably a day does not 
pass without some illustration of the truth of these 
remarks. Men who have long lived in unbelief or 
carelessness are arrested by an influence which 
they can neither understand nor resist. There is 
no new revelation, no novel arguments, no con- 
scious process of reasoning. There is simply a 
perception of the truth of the declarations of God 
concerning sin. Against the conviction thence 
arising, their old cavils, the arguments and assurances 
of their friends have no effect. They do not reach 
the point. They are addressed to something quite 
foreign to the ground of the conviction, and there- 
fore do not affect it. Though this persuasion of 
the truth of the Scriptural doctrine respecting sin, 
is often temporary, it forms an essential part of those 
convictions which are abiding and saving. Men 
may have this persuasion who never accept the 
offers of salvation, but those who do accept them 
cannot be entirely without it. 

This knowledge of sin, which enters so essen- 
tially into the nature of true conviction, is derived 
from the law, for by the law is the knowledge of 
sin. I had not known sin, said the apostle, but by 


the law. For without the law, sin was dead. I 
was alive without the law onee ; but when the 
commandment came sin revived and I died. It is 
clearly taught in these and similar passages, that 
the apostle was at one time ignorant of the extent 
and spirituality of the law, and consequently igno- 
rant of sin. He thought himself to be as good as 
could be reasonably expected. He was contented 
and at ease. But when the law was revealed to him 
in its true character, his views of sin were at once 
changed. He came to know what it was, and to 
feel its power over him. A thousand things which 
before had appeared indifferent or trivial, he now 
saw to be aggravated offences ; and especially the 
secret, deep-seated evil of his heart, which had 
escaped his knowledge or regard, was detected as 
the great source of all other sin. 

The law is the means of communicating this 
knowledge, because it is an expression of the per- 
fect holiness of God. So long as men judge them- 
selves by themselves, and compare themselves 
among themselves, they will be in the dark as to 
their true character. It is not until they judge 
themselves by the perfect standard of duty con- 
tained in the law of God, that they can have any 
proper knowledge of their real character. It is in 
his light that we see light. It is only when we 
look away from the sinful beings by whom we are 


surrounded, and feel ourselves in the presence of 
the perfect purity of God, that we are sensible of 
the extent of our departure from the standard of 
excellence. It is therefore both the doctrine of the 
Bible and the experience of the people of God, 
that the knowledge of sin arises from the apprehen- 
sion of the divine excellence as revealed in the law. 
There is no doubt great diversity in the expe- 
rience of Christians as to the clearness of their 
views on this subject. In some cases every thing 
is seen as through a glass, darkly ; in others there 
is such a discovery of the infinite excellence of 
God and of his law, as to fill the mind with the 
greatest reverence and self-abasement. Sometimes 
this knowledge steals upon the mind as impercepti- 
bly as the opening day ; at others, in a moment, 
the truth stands disclosed in all its awful purity. 
The man who one hour was unconcerned, the next 
is full of astonishment at his former blindness. He 
wonders how it was possible he could be so igno- 
rant of the excellence of God and the perfection of 
his law. He is amazed at his infatuation in think- 
ing that he was to be judged by the common stan- 
dard of man's judgment, by the low demands of the 
world or of his associates. He now sees that the 
rule by which he is to be tried is infinitely pure, 
and cannot overlook the least transgression. We 
are no where taught what degree of clearness of 


this knowledge is necessary to salvation. We only 
know that men must have such a knowledge of sin 
as to bring their judgments respecting it into accor- 
dance with the declarations of God ; that instead 
of that perpetual opposition to the doctrine of the 
Scriptures respecting the evil and extent of sin, 
which men so generally evince, they must be 
brought to acquiesce in the truth and justice of all 
God's representations on the subject. 

Besides this knowledge of sin and assent to the 
Scriptural doctrine on the subject, there is, in 
genuine conviction, a sense of personal unworthi- 
ness. This perhaps has been in a measure antici- 
pated, but it deserves particular consideration. Holy 
beings may have a clear perception of the truth as 
presented in the word of God respecting the nature 
of sin, but they can have no sense of moral turpi- 
tude. And among men there is often a clear under- 
standing of the doctrine on this subject, and a 
general assent to its truth, without any adequate 
conviction that what the Bible says of sinners is 
applicable to us. It is not enough therefore that 
we should know and believe what the Scriptures 
teach respecting sin, we must feel that it is all true 
as it regards ourselves. There must be an assent 
of our own consciousness to the declaration that 
the heart is deceitful above all things and desper- 
ately wicked ; that in us, that is, in our flesh, there 


dwelleth no good thing. This sense of personal 
unworthiness is the principal part of conviction of 
sin. It is the opposite of that false notion of our 
own excellence, which we are so prone to indulge. 
It destroys our self-complacency and eradicates the 
disposition to justify ourselves, or extenuate our 

The most certain concomitant of this sense of 
moral turpitude in the sight of God, is shame. O 
my God, cried Ezra under a sense of sin, I am 
ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee my 
God, for our iniquities are increased over our head, 
and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. 
And Daniel said: O Lord, righteousness belongeth 
unto thee, but unto us confusion of face as at this 
day. I have heard of thee, said Job, with the 
hearing of the ear, but now my eye seeth thee, and 
I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes. And 
in another place he says : Behold I am vile, what 
shall I answer thee ? I will lay my hand upon my 
mouth. The same feeling is expressed by the 
Psalmist, when he says, Mine iniquities have 
taken hold upon me, so that I cannot look up ; they 
are more than the hairs of my head, therefore, my 
heart faileth me. The same emotion filled the 
bosom of the Publican, when lie would not so 
much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon 
his breast and said, God be merciful to me a 


With this sense of unworthiness are mingled, in 
a greater or less degree, the feelings of contrition 
and remorse ; sorrow for our innumerable offences, 
and bitter self-condemnation. To these are often 
added perplexity and fear of the wrath of God ; a 
dread lest our sins never can be forgiven, lest our 
defilement never can be washed away. No suffer- 
ing in this world can exceed what the soul often 
endures under the pressure of these feelings. It 
cries out with Paul, O wretched man that I am, 
who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? 
Or it is forced to say with Job, The arrows of the 
Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh 
up my spirits ; and the terrors of God do set them- 
selves in array against me. Or with David, While 
I suffer thy terrors I am distracted ; thy fierce 
wrath goeth over me ; thy terrors have cut me off. 

With the inspired record of the experience of 
God's people on this subject, we find the language 
of his more eminent servants in later times re- 
markably coincident. The confessions of Augustin 
are full of similar expressions of humiliation and 
anguish under a sense of sin. And even the stout 
heart of Luther was so broken by his inward suf- 
ferings, that his life was long a burden almost too 
heavy for him to bear. But while it is no doubt 
true that it is the natural tendency of correct appre- 
hensions of our real character in the sight of God to 


produce these strong emotions of humiliation and 
sorrow ; and while it is no less true that those who 
have made the most eminent attainments in holi- 
ness, have generally had the largest share of these 
inward trials, it is not to be supposed that they are 
necessary to the character of a Christian. On the 
contrary a believing apprehension of the mercy of 
God in Jesus Christ, while it would not prevent 
humiliation and penitential sorrow on account of 
sin, would effectually extract the bitterness of re- 
morse and fear from the cup of repentance. There 
is no true religion in these terrors and fearful ap- 
prehensions. The death-bed of the impenitent 
often exhibits this sense of guilt, humiliation, re- 
morse, dread of punishment and other indications 
of an enlightened and awakened conscience. And 
in many cases those who have suffered all this 
distress, lose their serious impressions and sink 
into their former carelessness. Though, therefore, 
the pain of remorse and dread of the wrath of God 
often attend conviction of sin, they do not constitute 
it. In many cases there is little of this agitation of 
feeling. Perhaps the most frequent form of reli- 
gious experience on this subject is a deep distress 
on account of the want of an excitement of feeling 
corresponding with the judgment of the under- 
standing and conscience. The common complaint 
with many is that they cannot feel ; that their hearts 


are like ice ; that the knowledge and perception of 
their ingratitude and disobedience produce little or 
no emotion. Such persons would gladly exchange 
their insensibility for the keenest anguish ; their 
constant prayer is that God would take from them 
their heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh. 
This form of experience is just as consistent with 
the nature of conviction of sin as the other. All 
that is necessary is the testimony of conscience to 
the justice of the divine representations of our cha- 
racter and conduct ; the consciousness and acknow- 
ledgment that we are what God declares us to be. 
Where this judgment of the conscience, or this 
sense of personal un worthiness exists, leading the 
sinner to lay his hand upon his mouth in the pre- 
sence of God, and to bow at his feet as undeserving 
of mercy, there, as far as this point is concerned, 
is genuine conviction. 

This state of mind may be produced in very 
different ways. Sometimes it is the result of a 
calm review of life and a comparison of the habitual 
state of the heart and general course of our conduct 
with the law of God. Sometimes, some one offence 
more than commonly aggravated seizes upon the 
conscience ; some broken vow, some neglected call, 
some open sin, is made the means of revealing the 
man to himself. Whatever may be the particular 
occasion, the mind is led to fix itself on its respon- 


sibility to God and the conviction of its guilt be- 
comes settled and confirmed. This is necessary to 
the sinner's return to God. So long as he thinks 
himself whole, he will not apply to the physician. 
So long as he regards his sins as either few or 
trivial, he will feel no concern for pardon or sancti- 
fication. But when his eyes are opened and his 
conscience aroused, he feels that his case demands 
immediate and earnest attention ; he knows himself 
to be unprepared to meet his God, that his sins are 
so great that they cannot be forgiven, unless he 
obtains an interest in the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus. Every true Christian is in some way 
brought to this conviction and acknowledgment of 
personal ill-desert in the sight of God. 

In the third place, conviction of sin includes a 
conviction of our condemnation before God. A 
sense of sin is a sense of unworthiness and a sense 
of unworthiness involves a sense of just exposure 
to the divine displeasure. It may be proper to 
notice three very distinct states of mind in reference 
to this subject. It is very obvious that our views 
of the punishment due to sin, must depend upon 
our views of sin itself. If we have inadequate 
apprehensions of the evil of sin, we shall have in- 
adequate apprehensions of the punishment which 
it deserves. Hence in the great majority of men 
there is a secret disbelief of the Scriptural rcpre- 


sentations on this subject. They cannot reconcile 
the declarations of God respecting the doom of the 
impenitent with their views of his justice and mercy, 
and, therefore, they cannot believe them. And it 
very often happens that the sense of sin which 
serious people experience is insufficient to overcome 
this unbelief, or at least, the strong opposition of 
the heart to what the Bible teaches on this subject. 
They feel that they are sinners, they feel that they 
deserve the displeasure of God, but they still expe- 
rience a secret revolting against the dreadful denun- 
ciations of the Scriptures against all sin. " To 
submit to the condemning power of the holy law 
of God," says Dr. Milner, "is a hard matter, a 
very hard matter indeed to do this thoroughly. My 
understanding has shown me, for many years, that 
this was the touchstone of a sound conversion ; 
and I have been busy enough in noting the defect 
of it in others ; but as to myself, if I have got on 
at all in this respect, it is very lately indeed. The 
heart is sadly deceitful here ; for, with Christ'3 
salvation before one's eye, one may easily fancy 
that God is just and equitable in condemning sin- 
ners ; when if you put the case, only for a moment, 
to your own heart seriously, as a thing likely to 
happen, the heart will rise against such a dispensa- 
tion ; perhaps indeed with a smothered sort of op- 
position and dislike, but which is very steady and 


determined. Nothing less than the Holy Ghost 
himself can cure this, by showing us the glory of 
God in the face of Jesus Christ."* That the soul 
should revolt at the idea of its own misery, is the 
law of our nature, aud never can be eradicated. 
This is not the sentiment which it is intended to 
condemn, but the opposition of the heart to the 
truth and justice of God's declarations respecting 
the punishment due to sin. It is this opposition, 
this disposition to criminate God, to regard him as 
unjustly severe, which ought to be subdued ; be- 
cause it shows that our hearts are not in harmony 
with his word; that we regard as unjust what he 
pronounces just. All experience shows that this is 
a very common state of mind. And its existence 
proves that our views of the ill-desert of sin have 
not been sufficiently clear to bring us to submit to 
the plan which God has revealed for our redemp- 
tion from deserved condemnation. 

The opposite extreme to this is the feeling that 
our sins are so great that they cannot be forgiven. 
This is no uncommon persuasion. When there is 
a clear discovery of the evil of sin, with no com- 
comitant apprehension of the true plan of salvation, 
despair is the natural result. The judgment of 
conscience is known to be true when it pronounces 

* Wilberforce's Correspondence. 


our sins to be deserving of death. And unless the 
soul sees how God can be just and yet justify the 
sinner, it cannot hope for mercy. Nothing can be 
more pitiable than a soul in this condition. Its 
views of the justice of God and of the evil of sin, 
are neither false nor exaggerated. It is their truth 
which gives them power, and which renders futile 
the soothing assurances of friends that God will not 
be so strict in marking iniquity, or that the sinner's 
guilt is not so great as he imagines. An enlightened 
conscience cannot be thus appeased, and if such be 
the only sources of consolation to which it has ac- 
cess, it must despair. 

In a Christian country, however, the knowledge 
of the plan of salvation is so generally diffused, 
that it seldom fails, even when imperfectly under- 
stood, to calm or restrain the apprehensions of 
God's displeasure. It is known that God can par- 
don sin, that there is salvation at least for some, 
for some have been saved. And although the sinner 
is often disposed to think that his is an excepted case, 
or that there is some peculiar aggravation in his 
guilt, which puts him beyond the reach of mercy, 
yet he cannot be sure that this is the case. And 
in his darkest hours the belief in the possibility of 
salvation is not entirely destroyed. 

Between these extremes of inimical opposition 
to the truth of God as to the just exposure of the 


sinner to condemnation and the despair of mercy 
which arises from unbelief, lies genuine conviction 
of ill-desert. If religious experience is the con- 
formity of our judgments and feelings to the truths 
that are revealed in the Scriptures and if it is there 
revealed that the wages of sin is death, our judg- 
ment and feeling must assent to that truth ; we 
must admit that such is the just desert of sin and 
of our sins. There must be no disposition to com- 
plain of the extent or severity of the law ; but 
such a sense of ill-desert in the sight of God as 
shall lead us to lie at his feet, sensible that he can 
neither do nor threaten wrong and that forgiveness 
must be a matter entirely of grace. It is obvious 
that there can be no intelligent acceptance of Christ 
as a saviour without this conviction of our exposure 
to condemnation and there can be no conviction of 
such exposure, without a perception of the justice 
of the penalty of the law. It is, however, to be 
remembered that there are many things involved in 
Christian experience, which may not be the object 
of distinct attention. It may, therefore, well hap- 
pen that many pass from death unto life, without 
any lively apprehension of the wrath of God, or 
any very distinct impression that all that he has 
threatened against sin might be justly inflicted 
upon them. Their attention may have been ar- 
rested and their hearts moved by the exhibition of 


the love of God in Christ, and they may have been 
conscious, at the time, of little more than a cordial 
acquiescence in the gospel, and the desire and pur- 
pose to live for the service of God. Still, even in 
such persons, as soon as their attention is directed 
to the subject, there is a full recognition of ill- 
desert, a readiness to acknowledge that salvation is 
a matter of grace, and that they would have no 
right to complain had they been left to perish in 
their sins. Diversified, therefore, as may be the 
experience of God's people on this subject, they 
agree in acknowledging the justice of God in 
his demands and his threatenings and in regarding 
themselves as unworthy of the least of all his 

Section N. Insufficiency of our own righteousness ana 
of our own strength. 

Another essential characteristic of genuine con- 
viction is the persuasion that our own good works 
are entirely insufficient to recommend us to God, or 
to be the ground of our acceptance before him. 
Since the Scriptures declare that we are justified 
freely, not by works, lest any man should boast, 
but by faith in Jesus Christ, our experience must 
accord with this declaration. We must have such 
views of the holiness of God, of the extent of his 


law and of our own unworthiness as shall make us 
fully sensible that we cannot by our own works 
secure either pardon or acceptance. It is easy to 
profess that we do not trust to our own righteous* 
ness, but really to divest ourselves of all reliance 
upon our supposed excellence, is a difficult task. 
When a man is roused to a sense of his guilt and 
danger, his first impulse is almost always to fly to 
any other refuge than that provided in the gospel. 
The most natural method of appeasing conscience 
is the promise of reformation. Particular sins are 
therefore forsaken, and a struggle, it may be, is 
maintained against all others. This conflict is often 
long and painful, but it is always unsuccessful. It 
is soon found that sin, in one form or other, is con- 
stantly getting the mastery, and the soul feels that 
something more must be done if it is ever to make 
itself fit for heaven. It is, therefore, ready to do, 
or to submit to any thing which appears necessary 
for this purpose. What particular form of works 
it may be which it endeavours to weave into a robe 
of righteousness, depends on the degree of know- 
ledge which it possesses, or the kind of religious 
instruction which it receives. When greatly igno- 
rant of the gospel, it endeavours by painful pen- 
ances, self-imposed, or prescribed by priestly au- 
thority, to make satisfaction for its sins. Experience 
teaches that there is no extremity of self-denial to 


which a conscience-stricken man will not gladly 
submit as a means of satisfying the demands of 
God. If heaven were really to be gained by such 
means, we should see the road crowded by the 
young and old, the rich and poor, the learned and 
ignorant, in multitudes as countless as those which 
throng the cruel temples of the Hindoos, or which 
perish on the burning sands of Arabia. This is 
the easiest, the pleasantest, the most congenial of 
all the methods of salvation, taught by the cunning 
craftiness of men. It is no wonder that those who 
teach it as the doctrine of the gospel, should find 
submissive hearers. If men can be allowed to 
purchase heaven, or make atonement for past trans- 
gressions, by present suffering, they will gladly 
undertake it. This is so congenial to the human 
heart, that men who are well informed, and who 
pride themselves on their independence of mind, 
are scarcely less apt to be caught in the meshes of 
this net, than their more ignorant brethren. We 
see, therefore, statesmen and philosophers, as well 
as peasants, wearing sackcloth, or walking bare- 
foot, at the bidding of their religious teachers. 

In Protestant countries, where the Bible is gene- 
rally accessible, it is rare to see any such gross 
exhibitions of the spirit of self-righteousness. The 
Scriptures so clearly teach the method of salvation, 
that almost every one knows that at least mere 


external works of morality or discipline cannot 
avail to our justification before God. AVe must 
have a finer robe, a robe composed of duties of a 
higher value. Prayers are multiplied, the house of 
God is frequented, the whole routine of religious 
duties is assiduously attended to, under the impres- 
sion that thus we shall satisfy the demands of God 
and secure his favour. Multitudes are contented 
with this routine. Their apprehensions of the 
character and requirements of God, of the evil of 
sin, and of their own ill-desert are so low, that this 
remedy is adequate for all the wounds their con- 
sciences feel. The performance of their social and 
religious duties seems sufficient, in their view, to 
entitle them to the character of religious men ; and 
they are satisfied. Thus it was with Paul, who 
considered himself, as touching the righteousness 
which is of the law to be blameless. But all his 
strictness of moral duty and religious observance, 
was discovered to be worthless, so far as satisfying 
the demands of God is concerned. And every 
man, who is brought to accept the offer of salva- 
tion as presented in the gospel, is made to feel that 
it is not for any thing which he either does or ab- 
stains from doing, that his sins are pardoned and his 
person accepted before God. Nay, he sees that 
what men call their good works are so impure, as 
to be themselves a ground of condemnation. What 


are cold, wandering, selfish, irreverent prayers, but 
offences against God, whom we pretend to propi- 
tiate, by services which are but a mockery of his 
holiness ? And what is any routine of heartless 
observances, or if not heartless, at least so imper- 
fect as to fail of securing even our own approbation, 
in the eyes of him before whom the heavens are 
unclean ? What approach can such services make 
either towards satisfying the present demands of 
God, or atoning for years of neglect and sin 2 It 
requires but little insight into the state of his own 
heart, or the real character of the divine law, to 
convince the sinner that he must have a better 
righteousness than that which consists of his own 
duties or observances. 

From this foundation of sand the convinced 
sinner is, therefore, soon driven, but he betakes 
himself to another refuge nearer the cross, as he 
supposes, and which seems to require more self- 
renunciation. He ceases to think of establishing 
his own righteousness, but he still wishes to be 
made worthy to receive the righteousness of God. 
He knows that he can never cancel his debt of guilt, 
that his best services are unworthy of acceptance, 
that with all his circumspection he never lives a 
day in full compliance with the just demands of the 
law, and consequently that his salvation must be of 
grace, but he still thinks he must in some way 


merit that grace, or at least, be prepared by some 
observance or some experience for its reception. 
The distressed soul imagines that if it could be 
more distressed, more humbled, more touched with 
sorrow or remorse, it might then find acceptance. 
It sees that its long course of disobedience and in- 
gratitude, its rejection of Christ, its disregard of 
mercies and warnings, its thousand sins of commis- 
sion and omission, if forgiven at all, must be gra- 
tuitously pardoned, but this hardness of heart, this 
want of due tenderness and penitence, is a sin 
which must first be got out of the way, before the 
others can be remitted. It is, however, only one 
of the long, black catalogue. It can no more be 
separately conquered or atoned for, before coming 
to Christ, than any other sin of heart or life. It is 
often long before the soul is brought to see this, or 
to feel that it is really endeavouring to make itself 
better before applying to the physician ; to accom- 
plish at least some preparatory part of salvation for 
itself, so as not to be entirely indebted to the Re- 
deemer. At last, however, the soul discovers its 
mistake ; it finds that Christ does not save sinners 
for their tenderness or conviction, that tears are not 
more worthy of acceptance, than fasting, or alms- 
giving ; that it is the unworthy, the hard-hearted, 
the ungodly, those who have nothing to recommend 
them, that Christ came to save, and whom he ac- 


cepts in order to render them contrite and tender- 
hearted and obedient. These graces are his gifts, 
and if we stay away from him until we get them 
ourselves, we must perish in our sins. To this entire 
self-renunciation, this absolute rejection of every 
thing in itself as the ground, or reason of its ac- 
ceptance, must the soul be brought before it em- 
braces the offers of the gospel. 

It is included in what has been said that a con- 
sciousness of our own weakness is a necessary 
ingredient, or consequence of true conviction. 
There is not only a giving up of our own right- 
eousness, but of our own strength. All that is 
necessary here as on other points, is that we should 
feel what is true. If it is the doctrine of the Bible 
that the sinner can change his own heart, subdue 
his sins, excite all right affections in his heart, then 
genuine religious experience requires that this truth 
should be known, not merely as a matter of specu- 
lation, but as a matter of consciousness. But if 
the Scriptures teach that this change of heart is the 
work of the Holy Spirit ; that we are born not of 
the will of man but of God ; that it is the exceed- 
ing greatness of the divine power that operates in 
them that believe, quickening those who were dead 
in trespasses and sins, creating them anew in Christ 
Jesus, so that they are his workmanship, created 
unto good works ; if from one end of the Scriptures 


to the other, the internal work of salvation is de- 
clared to be not by the might, or power of man, 
but by the Spirit of the Lord, then is this one of 
the great truths of revelation of which we must be 
convinced. Our experience must accord with this 
representation and we must feel that to be true in 
our case, which God declares to be true univer- 

When a man is brought to feel that he is a sinner, 
that his heart is far from being right in the sight of 
God, he as naturally turns to his own strength to 
effect a change and to bring himself up to the 
standard of the law, as he turns to his own works 
as a compensation for his sins, or as a ground of 
confidence towards God. His efforts, therefore, aro 
directed to subdue the power of sin, and to excite 
religious feelings in his heart. He endeavours to 
mortify pride, to subdue the influence of the body, 
to wean himself from the world. He gives up his 
sinful, or worldly associates ; he strengthens his 
purposes against evil ; he forces himself to discharge 
the most ungrateful duties and exercises himself in 
self-denial. At the same time he tries to force him- 
self into a right state of mind, to make himself 
believe, repent, love and exercise all the Christian 
graces of meekness, humility, brotherly kindness 
and charity ; that is, he tries to make himself 
religious. He does every thing in his own strength 


and to save himself. Sometimes this course is pur- 
sued to the end of life. At others, it is continued 
for years and then found to be all in vain. Wesley- 
tells us this was the kind of religion which he had, 
until his visit to America and his intercourse with 
the Moravians. This is the religion of ascetics, 
which maybe persevered in, through stress of con- 
science, or fear of perdition, with great strictness 
and constancy. Almost every man makes trial of 
it. He will be his own saviour, if he can. It is 
found, however, by those who are taught of God, 
to be a hopeless task. The subtle evil of the heart 
is not to be subdued by any such efforts. If we 
force ourselves to forego the pleasures of sin, we 
cannot destroy the desire of forbidden joys. If we 
refuse to gratify pride, we cannot prevent its aspi- 
rations. If we relinquish the pursuit of worldly 
things, we still retain the love of the world. If we 
force ourselves to perform religious duties, we can- 
not make those duties a delight. If we compel 
ourselves to think of God, we cannot force ourselves 
to love him, to desire communion with him, to take 
pleasure in his service, and to delight in all his re- 
quirements. No one can tell the misery arising 
from these painful and ineffectual struggles ; these 
vain attempts to subdue sin and excite the Christian 
graces. If any thing could be taken as a substitute 
for them ; if making many prayers, or submitting 


to any suffering, could be taken as an equivalent, it 
would be gladly acceded to. But to change the 
heart, to delight in God, to be really spiritual and 
holy, is a work the sinner finds to be above his 
strength and yet absolutely necessary. Repeated 
failures do not destroy his delusion ; he still thinks 
that this is his work and that he must do it, or be 
lost. He, therefore, struggles on, he collects all his 
strength, and at length suddenly discovers it to be 
perfect weakness. He finds that if he is ever re- 
newed and made holy, it must be the work of God 
and he cries in the depth of his distress, Lord save 
me, or I perish. He gives up working in his own 
strength and sees, what he wonders he never saw 
before, that the Christian virtues are really graces, 
i. e. gifts; that they are not excellencies to be 
wrought out by ourselves ; but favours bestowed 
through Christ and for Christ's sake ; that it is the 
Holy Spirit purchased and sent by Him that is to 
change the heart and convince of sin, righteous- 
ness and judgment; that faith, repentance, joy, 
peace, humility and meekness are the fruits of that 
Spirit, and not the products of our own evil hearts ; 
that if we could make ourselves holy we should 
scarcely need a Saviour; and that it is the greatest 
of all delusions to suppose that we must be holy 
before we come to God through Christ, instead of 
holiness being the result of our reconciliation. 


While we are under the law, we bring forth fruit 
unto death. It is not until we are free from the law 
and reconciled to God by the death of his Son, that 
we bring forth fruit unto righteousness. This great 
truth, though written on every page of the Bible, 
every man has to learn for himself. He cannot be 
made to understand it by reading it in the Scrip- 
tures, or by being told it by others. He must try 
his own strength until he finds it to be nothing, 
before he submits to be saved by the grace of God, 
and bowing at the feet of Jesus, in utter despair of 
any other helper, says, Lord if thou wilt, thou canst 
make me clean. 

The man, therefore, whom the Holy Ghost con- 
vinces of sin, he causes to understand and believe 
what God has revealed on this subject. He makes 
him feel that what He declares to be true of all 
men, is true of him ; that he deserves what God 
declares all men deserve ; that he has no merit 
to recommend him to God and no strength to 
change his own heart. This knowledge the Spirit 
communicates through the law, which by present- 
ing the perfect rule of duty, shows us how far short 
we come of the glory of God, and how often and 
justly we have incurred its penalty; which con- 
vinces us that we are entirely unable to comply 
with its righteous demands, and that no mere ob- 
jective presentation of what is holy, just and good 

134 conviction or SIN. 

can change the heart, or destroy the power of in- 
dwelling sin ; since even when we see the excel- 
lence of the law we do not conform to it and cannot 
do the things that we would, but ever find a law in 
our members warring against the law of our minds 
and bringing us into subjection to the law of sin. 
It is thus that the law is a schoolmaster to bring us 
to Christ ; to drive us from every refuge of our own 
righteousness and strength, to Him who is made of 
God, unto those that believe, both justification and 



Section I. Importance of the doctrine. Explanation 
of the Scriptural terms relating to it. Justification is not 
by works. 

The state of mind described in the preceding 
chapter, cannot be long endured. Some way of 
satisfying the demands of conscience must be 
adopted. When the mind is enlightened by divine 
truth and duly impressed with a sense of guilt, 
it cannot fail anxiously to enquire, How can a man 
be just with God ? The answer given to this ques- 
tion decides the character of our religion, and if 
practically adopted, our future destiny. To give a 
wrong answer, is to mistake the way to heaven. 
It is to err where error is fatal, because it cannot be 
corrected. If God require one thing and we present 
another, how can we be saved ? If he has revealed 
a method in which he can be just and yet justify the 
sinner, and if we reject that method and insist upon 



pursuing a different way, how can we hope to be 
accepted? The answer, therefore, which is given 
to the above question should be seriously pondered 
by all who assume the office of religious teachers, 
and by all who rely upon their instructions. As 
we are not to be judged by proxy, but every man 
must answer for himself, so every man should be 
satisfied for himself what the Bible teaches on this 
subject. All that religious teachers can do, is to 
endeavour to aid the investigations of those who 
are anxious to learn the way of life. And in doing 
this, the safest method is to adhere strictly to the 
instructions of the Scriptures, and exhibit the sub- 
ject as it is there presented. The substance and 
the form of this all-important doctrine are so inti- 
mately connected, that those who attempt to sepa- 
rate them, can hardly fail to err. What one discards 
as belonging merely to the form, another consider? 
as belonging to its substance. All certainty anf 
security are lost, as soon as this method is adopted . 
and it becomes a matter to be decided exclusively 
by our own views of right and wrong, what is to 
be retained and what rejected from the Scriptural 
representations. Our only security, therefore, is to 
take the language of the Bible in its obvious mean- 
ing, and put upon it the construction which the 
persons to whom it was addressed must have given 


and which, consequently, the sacred writers in- 
tended it should bear. 

As the doctrine of justification is not only fre- 
quently stated in the sacred Scriptures, but formally 
taught and vindicated, all that will be attempted in 
this chapter, is to give, as faithfully as possible, a 
representation of what the inspired writers inculcate 
on this subject; that is, to state what positions 
they assume, by what arguments they sustain those 
positions, how they answer the objections to their 
doctrine and what application they make of it to 
the hearts and consciences of their readers. 

It is one of the primary doctrines of the Bible, 
everywhere either asserted or assumed, that we are 
under the law of God. This is true of all classes 
of men, whether they enjoy a divine revelation or 
not. Every thing which God has revealed as a 
rule of duty enters into the constitution of the law 
which binds those to whom that revelation is given, 
and by which they are to be ultimately judged. 
Those who have not received any external revela- 
tion of the divine will, are a law unto themselves. 
The knowledge of right and wrong, written upon 
their hearts, is of the nature of a divine law, having 
its authority and sanction, and by it the heathen are 
to be judged in the last day. 

God has seen fit to annex the promise of life to 
obedience to his law. The man that doeth these 


things shall live by them,* is the language of Scrip- 
ture on this subject. To the lawyer who admitted 
that the law required love to God and man, our Sa- 
viour said, Thou hast answered right. This do, 
and thou shalt live.t And to one who asked him, 
What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal 
life ? he said, If thou wouldst enter into life, keep 
the commandments.;}: On the other hand, the law 
denounces death as the penalty of transgression. 
The wages of sin is death. Such is the uniform 
declaration of Scripture on this subject. 

The obedience which the law demands, is called 
righteousness ; and those who render that obedi- 
ence are called righteous. To ascribe righteous- 
ness to any one, or to pronounce him righteous, is 
the scriptural meaning of the word to justify. The 
word never means to make good in a moral sense, 
but always to pronounce just or righteous. Thus 
God says, I will not justify the wicked. § Judges 
are commanded to justify the righteous and to con- 
demn the wicked. || Wo is pronounced on those 
who justify the wicked for a reward.^ In the New 
Testament it is said, By the deeds of the law shall 
no flesh be justified in his sight. ** It is God who 

* Rom. x. 5. f Luke x. 28. $ Matt. xix. 17. 

§ Ex. xxiii. 7. || Deut. xxv. 1. \ Is. v. 23. 

** Rom iii. 20. 

JLsllI iCATION. 13i> 

justifieth, who is he that condemneth? ■■'■ There is 
scarcely a word in the Bible the meaning of which 
is less open to doubt. There is no passage in the 
New Testament in which it is used out of its ordi- 
nary and obvious sense, t When God justifies a 
man, he declares him to be righteous. To justify 
never means to render one holy. It is said to be 
sinful to justify the wicked; but it could never be 
sinful to render the wicked holy. And as the 
law demands righteousness, to impute or ascribe 
righteousness to any one, is in scriptural language 
to justify. To make (or constitute) righteous, is 
another equivalent form of expression. Hence 
to be righteous before God, and to be justified, 
mean the same thing; as in the following passage, 
Not the hearers of the law are righteous before 
God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.^ 
The attentive, and especially the anxious reader of 
the Bible cannot fail to observe that these various 
expressions, to be righteous in the sight of God, to 
impute righteousness, to constitute righteous, to 
justify, and others of similar import, are so inter- 
changed as to explain each other, and to make it 

* Horn. viu. 33, 34. 
| Revelation xxii. 11, is probably no exception to this 
remark, as the text in that passage is uncertain. 
| Rom. ii. 13. 


clear that to justify a man is to ascribe or impute 
to him righteousness. The great question then is, 
How is this righteousness to be obtained ? We 
have reason to be thankful that the answer which 
the Bible gives to this question is so perfectly 

In the first place, that the righteousness by which 
we are to be justified before God is not of works, 
is not only asserted but proved. The apostle's 
first argument on this point is derived from the con- 
sideration that the law demands a perfect righteous- 
ness. If the law was satisfied by an imperfect 
obedience, or by a routine of external duties, or by 
any service which men are competent to render, 
then indeed justification would be by works. But 
since it demands perfect obedience, justification by 
works is, for sinners, absolutely impossible. It is 
thus the apostle reasons.* As many as are of the 
works of the law, are under the curse. For it is 
written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all 
things written in the book of the law to do them. 
As the law pronounces its curse upon every man who 
continues not to do all that it commands, and as no 
man can pretend to this perfect obedience, it follows 
that all who look to the law for justification must 
be condemned. To the same effect in the follow- 

• Gal. iii. 10. 


ing verse, he says, The law is not of faith, but the 
man that doeth them shall live by them. That is, 
the law is not satisfied by any single grace or im- 
perfect obedience. It knows and can know no 
other ground of justification than complete com- 
pliance with its demands. Hence in the same 
chapter, Paul says, If there had been a law which 
could have given life, verily righteousness would 
have been by the law. Could the law pronounce 
righteous, and thus give a title to the promised 
life to those who had broken its commands, 
there would have been no necessity of any other 
provision for the salvation of men ; but as the law 
cannot thus lower its demands, justification by the 
law is impossible. The same truth is taught in a 
different form, when it is said, If righteousness 
come by the law, Christ is dead in vain.* There 
would have been no necessity for the death of 
Christ, if it had been possible to satisfy the law 
by the impsrfect obedience which we can render. 
Paul therefore warns all those who look to works 
for justification that they are debtors to do the 
whole law.t It knows no compromise ; it cannot 
demand less than what is right, and perfect obe- 
dience is right, and therefore its only language is as 
before, Cursed is every one that continueth not in 

* Gal. ii. 21. f Ibid v. 3. 


all things written in the book of the law to do 
them ; and, The man that doetli those things shall 
live by them. Every man, therefore, who expects 
justification by works, must sec to it, not that he 
is better than other men, or that he is very exact 
and does many things, or that he fasts twice in the 
week, and gives tithes of all he possesses, but that 
he is sinless. 

That the law of God is thus strict in its demands, 
is a truth which lies at the foundation of all Paul's 
reasoning in reference to the method of justifica- 
tion. He proves that the Gentiles have sinned 
against the law written on their hearts ; and that 
the Jews have broken the law revealed in their 
Scriptures ; both Jews and Gentiles therefore are 
under sin, and the whole world is guilty before 
God. Hence he infers that by the deeds of the 
law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. 
There is however no force in this reasoning, ex- 
cept on the assumption, that the law demands per- 
fect obedience. How many men, who freely 
acknowledge that they are sinners, depend upon 
their works for acceptance with God ! They see 
no inconsistency between the acknowledgment of 
sin, and the expectation of justification by works. 
The reason is, they proceed upon a very different 
principle from that adopted by the apostle. They 
suppose that the law may be satisfied by very im 


perfect obedience. Paul assumes that God demands 
perfect conformity to his will, that his wrath is 
revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteous- 
ness of men. With him therefore it is enough 
that men have sinned, to prove that they cannot be 
justified by works. It is not a question of de- 
grees, more or less, for as to this point there is no 
difference, since all have sinned, and come short of 
the glory of God. 

This doctrine, though so plainly taught in scrip- 
ture, men are disposed to think very severe. They 
imagine that their good deeds will be compared 
with their evil deeds, and that they will be re- 
warded or punished as the one class or the otherpre- 
ponderates ; or that the sins of one part of life may 
be atoned for by the good works of another ; or 
that they can escape by mere confession and repent- 
ance. They could not entertain such expectations, 
if they believed themselves to be under a law. 
No human law is administered as men seem to hope 
the law of God will be. He who steals or murders, 
though it be but once, though he confesses and 
repents, though he does any number of acts of 
charity, is not less a thief or murderer. The law 
cannot take cognizance of his repentance and re- 
formation. If he steals or murders the law con 
demns him. Justification by the law is for him 
impossible. The law of God extends to the most 


secret exercises of the heart. It condemns what- 
ever is in its nature evil. If a man violate this 
perfect rule of right, there is an end of justification 
by the law ; he has failed to comply with its condi- 
tions ; and the law can only condemn him. To 
justify him, would be to say that he had not trans- 
gressed. Men however think that they are not to 
be dealt with on the principles of strict law. Here 
is their fatal mistake. It is here that they are in 
most direct conflict with the Scriptures, which pro- 
ceed upon the uniform assumption of our subjection 
to the law. Under the government of God, strict 
law is nothing but perfect excellence ; it is the 
steady exercise of moral rectitude. Even con- 
science, when duly enlightened and roused, is as 
strict as the law of God. It refuses to be appeased 
by repentance, reformation, or penance. It en- 
forces every command and every denunciation of 
our Supreme Ruler, and teaches, as plainly as do 
the Scriptures themselves, that justification by an 
imperfect obedience is impossible. As conscience 
however is fallible, no reliance on this subject is 
placed on her testimony. The appeal is to the 
word of God; which clearly teaches that it is 
impossible a sinner can be justified by works, 
because the law demands perfect obedience. 

The apostle's second argument to show that 
justification is not by works, is the testimony of 


the Scriptures of the Old Testament. This testi- 
mony is urged in various forms. In the first place, 
as the apostle proceeds upon the principle that the 
law demands perfect obedience, all those passages 
which assert the universal sinfulness of men, are 
so many declarations that they cannot be justified 
by works. He therefore quotes such passages as 
the following: There is none righteous, no not 
one. There is none that understandeth, there is 
none that seeketh after God. They are all gone 
out of the way ; they are altogether become un- 
profitable ; there is none that doeth good, no not 
one.* The Old Testament, by teaching that all 
men are sinners, does, in the apostle's view, thereby 
teach that they can never be accepted before God 
on the ground of their own righteousness. To say 
that a man is a sinner, is to say that the law con- 
demns him; and of course it cannot justify him. 
As the ancient Scriptures are full of declarations 
of the sinfulness of men, so they are full of proof 
that justification is not by works. 

But in the second place, Paul cites their direct 
affirmative testimony in support of his doctrine. In 
the Psalms it is said, Enter not into judgment with 
thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living 
be justified.! This passage he often quotes ; and 

* Rom, iii. 10, 12. f Ps - cxliiil 2 



to the same class belong all those passages which 
speak of the insufficiency or worthlessness of hu- 
man righteousness in the sight of God. 

In the third place, the apostle refers to those 
passages which imply the doctrine for which he 
contends ; that is, to those which speak of the ac- 
ceptance of men with God as a matter of grace, as 
something which they do not deserve, and for 
which they can urge no claim founded upon their 
own merit. It is with this view that he refers 
to the language of David ; Blessed are they 
whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are 
covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord 
will not impute sin. The fact that a man is for- 
given implies that he is guilty ; and the fact that he 
is guilty, implies that his justification cannot rest 
upon his own character or conduct. It need hardly 
be remarked, that in this view, the whole Scrip- 
tures, from beginning to the end, are crowded with 
condemnations of the doctrine of justification by 
works. Every penitent confession, every appeal to 
God's mercy, is a renunciation of all personal 
merit, a declaration that the penitent's hope was 
not founded on any thing in himself. Such con- 
fessions and appeals are indeed often made by those 
who still rely upon their good works, or inherent 

* Rom. iv. 7, 8. 


righteousness, for acceptance with God. This, 
however, does not invalidate the apostle's argument. 
It only shows that such persons have a different 
view of what is necessary for justification, from 
that entertained by the apostle. They suppose 
that the demands of the law are so low, that although 
they are sinners and need to be forgiven, they can 
still do what the law demands. Whereas, Paul 
proceeds on the assumption that the law requires 
perfect obedience, and therefore every confession 
of sin, or appeal for mercy, involves a renunciation 
of justification by the law. 

Again, the apostle represents the Old Testament 
as teaching that justification is not by works, by 
showing that they inculcate a different method of 
obtaining acceptance with God. This they do by 
the doctrine which they teach concerning the Mes- 
siah as a Redeemer from sin. Hence Paul says 
that the method of justification without works, (not 
founded upon works) was testified by the law and 
the prophets, that is, by the whole of the Old Tes- 
tament. The two methods of acceptance with God, 
the one by works the other by a propitiation for sin, 
are incompatible. And as the ancient Scriptures 
teach the latter method, they repudiate the former. 
But they moreover, in express terms, assert, That 
the just shall live by faith. And the law knows 
nothing of faith ; its language is, The man tha 


doeth them shall live by them. 1 - The law knows 
nothing of any thing but obedience as the ground 
of acceptance. If the Scriptures say we are ac- 
cepted through faith, they thereby say that we are 
not accepted on the ground of obedience. 

Again, the examples of justification given in the 
Old Testament, show that it was not by works. The 
apostle appeals particularly to the case of Abraham, 
and asks, Whether he attained justification by 
works ? and answers, No, for if he were justified 
by works he had whereof to glory, but he had 
no ground of glorying before God, and, therefore, 
he was not justified by works. And the Scriptures 
expressly assert, Abraham believed God and it 
was imputed to him for righteousness. His ac- 
ceptance, therefore, was by faith and not by works. 

In all these various ways, does the apostle make 
the authority of the Old Testament sustain his doc- 
trine that justification is not by works. This 
authority is as decisive for us as it was for the an- 
cient Jewish Christians. We also believe the Old 
Testament to be the word of God, and its truths 
come to us explained and enforced by Christ and 
his apostles. We have the great advantage of an 
infallible interpretation of these early oracles of 
truth, and the argumentative manner in which their 

* Gal. Hi. 11, 12. 


authority is cited and applied prevents all obscurity 
as to the real intentions of the sacred writers. That 
by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified 
before God, is taught so clearly and so frequently 
in the New Testament, it is so often asserted, so 
formally proved, so variously assumed, that no one 
can doubt that such is indeed the doctrine of the word 
of God. The only point on which the serious inqui- 
rer can even raise a question, is what kind of works 
do the Scriptures mean to exclude as the foundation 
for acceptance with God. Does the apostle mean 
works in the widest sense, or does he merely intend 
ceremonial observances, or works of mere formality 
performed without any real love to God ? 

Those who attend to the nature of his assertions 
and to the course of his argument, will find that 
there is no room for doubt on this subject. The 
primary principle on which his argument rests pre- 
cludes all ground for mistaking his meaning. He 
assumes that the law demands perfect obedience, 
and as no man can render that obedience, he infers 
that no man can be justified by the law. He does 
not argue that because the law is spiritual it cannot 
be satisfied by mere ceremonies or by works flow- 
ing from an impure motive. He no where says, 
that though we cannot be justified by external rites, 
or by works having the mere form of goodness, we 
are justified by our sincere though imperfect obe- 
13 s 


dience. On the contrary he constantly teaches, 
that since we are sinners and since the law con- 
demns all sin, it condemns us, and justification by 
the law is, therefore, impossible. This argument 
he applies to the Jews and the Gentiles without 
distinction, to the whole world, whether they knew 
any thing of the Jewish Scriptures or not. It was 
the moral law, the law which he pronounced holy, 
just and good, which says, Thou shalt not covet ; 
it is this law, however revealed, whether in the 
writings of Moses, or in the human heart, of which 
he constantly asserts that it cannot give life, or teach 
the way of acceptance with God. As most of those 
to whom he wrote had enjoyed a divine revelation, 
and as that revelation included the law of Moses 
and all its rites, he of course included that law in 
his statement and often specially refers to it ; but 
never in its limited sense as a code of religious cere- 
monies, but always in its widest scope as including 
the highest rule of moral duty made known to 
men. And hence he never contrasts one class of 
works with another, but constantly works and faith, 
excluding all classes of the former, works of right- 
eousness as well as those of mere formality. Not 
by works of righteousness which we have done, 
but according to his mercy he hath saved us.* 

* Titus iii. 5. 


Who hath saved us not according to our works.* 
We are saved by faith, not by works.t Nay, men 
are said to be justified without works; to be in 
themselves ungodly when justified; and it is not 
until they are justified that they perform any really 
good works. It is only when united to Christ that 
we bring forth fruit unto God. Hence we are said 
to be his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto 
good works. All the inward excellence of the 
Christian and the fruits of the spirit are the conse- 
quences and not the causes of his reconciliation and 
acceptance with God. They are the robe of beauty, 
the white garment, with which Christ arrays those 
who come to him poor and blind and naked. It is 
then the plain doctrine of the word of God that our 
justification is not founded upon our own obedience 
to the law. Nothing done by us or wrought in us 
can for a moment stand the test of a rule of right- 
eousness which pronounces a curse upon all those, 
who continue not in all things written in the book 
of the law to do them. 

Sectiox II. The demands of the Law are satisfied by 
what Christ has done. 

We have thus seen that the Scriptures teach first 
that all men are naturally under the law as pre- 

* 2 Tim. i. 9. f E P h - "• 9 - 


scribing the terms of their acceptance with God 
and secondly, that no obedience which sinners can 
render is sufficient to satisfy the demands of that 
law. It follows then that unless we are freed from 
the law, not as a rule of duty, but as prescribing 
the conditions of acceptance with God, justification 
is for us impossible. It is, therefore, the third 
great point of Scriptural doctrine on this subject, 
that believers are free from the law in the sense just 
stated. Ye are not under the law, says the apostle, 
but under grace.* To illustrate this declaration he 
refers to the case of a woman who is bound to her 
husband as long as he lives, but when he is dead, 
she is free from her obligation to him, and is at 
liberty to marry another man. So we are deliver- 
ed from the law as a rule of justification, and are 
at liberty to embrace a different method of ob- 
taining acceptance with God.t Paul says of him- 
self,! mat ne na( ^ died to the law, i. e. become free 
from it. And the same is said of all believers. § lie 
insists upon this freedom as essential not only to 
justification but to sanctification. For while under 
the law, the motions of sin, which were by the law, 
brought forth fruit unto death, but now we are 
delivered from the law that we may serve God in 

* Rom. vi. 14. f Rom. vii. 1, 6. 

X Gal. ii. 19. § Rom. vii. G. 


newness of spirit.* Before faith came we were 
kept under the law, which he compares to a school- 
master, but now we are no longer under a school- 
master.t He regards the desire to be subject to the 
law as the greatest infatuation. Tell me, he says, 
ye that desire to be under the law, Do ye not hear 
the law ? and then shows that those who are under 
the demands of a legal system, are in the condition 
of slaves and not of sons and heirs. Stand fast, 
therefore, he exhorts, in the liberty wherewith 
Christ hath made us free. Behold I Paul say unto 
you, that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit 
you nothing. For I testify to every one that is cir- 
cumcised that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 
Christ has become of no effect to you ; whosoever 
of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from 
grace. + This infatuation Paul considered mad- 
ness, and exclaims, O foolish Galatians, who hath 
bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, 
before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evi- 
dently set forth, crucified among you ? This 
only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit 
by the works of the law, or by the hearing of 
faith ?§ This apostasy was so fatal, the substitution 
of legal obedience for the work of Christ as the 
ground of justification, was so destructive, that Paul 

* Rom. vii. 5, 6. f Gal. iii. 24, 25. 

t Gal. v. 1, 4. § Gal. iii. 1, 2. 


pronounces accursed any man or angel who should 
preach such a doctrine for the gospel of the grace 
of God. 

It was to the law, as revealed in the books of 
Moses, that the fickle Galatians were disposed to 
look for justification. Their apostasy, however, 
consisted in going back to the law, no matter in 
what form revealed, to works, no matter of what 
kind, as the ground of justification. The apostle's 
arguments and denunciations, therefore, are so 
framed as to apply to the adoption of any form of 
legal obedience, instead of the work of Christ, as 
the ground of our confidence towards God. To 
suppose that all he says relates exclusively to a 
relapse into Judaism, is to suppose that we Gentiles 
have no part in the redemption of Christ. If it 
was only from the bondage of the Jewish economy 
that he redeemed his people, then those who were 
never subject to that bondage have no interest in 
his work. And of course Paul was strangely in- 
fatuated in preaching Christ crucified to the Gen- 
tiles. We find, however, that what he taught in 
the Epistle to the Galatians, in special reference to 
the law of Moses, he teaches in the Epistle to the 
Romans in reference to that law which is holy, just 
and good, and which condemns the most secret 
sins of the heart. 

The nature of the apostle's doctrine is, if possi- 


ble, even more clear from the manner in which he 
vindicates it, than from his direct assertions. What 
then ! he asks, shall we continue in sin, because 
we are not under the law, but under grace ? God 
forbid. Had Paul taught that we are freed from the 
ceremonial, in order to be subject to the moral law, 
there could have been no room for such an objec- 
tion. But if he taught that the moral law itself 
could not give life, that we must be freed from 
its demands as the condition of acceptance with 
God, then indeed, to the wise of this world, it 
might seem that he was loosing the bands of moral 
obligation, and opening the door to the greatest 
licentiousness. Hence the frequency and earnest- 
ness with which he repels the objection, and shows 
that so far from legal bondage being necessary to 
holiness, it must cease before holiness can exist ; 
that it is not until the curse of the law is removed, 
and the soul reconciled to God, that holy affections 
rise in the heart, and the fruits of holiness appear 
in the life. Do we then make void the law 
through faith ? God forbid : yea, we establish the 

It is then clearly the doctrine of the Bible that 
believers are freed from the law as prescribing the 
conditions of their acceptance with God ; it is no 

* Rom. iii. 31. 


longer incumbent upon them, in order to justifica- 
tion, to fulfil its demand of perfect obedience, or 
to satisfy its penal exactions. But how is this 
deliverance effected ? How is it that rational and 
accountable beings are exempted from the obliga- 
tions of that holy and just law, which was origi- 
nally imposed upon their race as the rule of 
justification ? The answer to this question includes 
the fourth great truth respecting the way of salva- 
tion taught in the Scriptures. It is not by the abroga- 
tion of the law, either as to its precepts or penalty ; 
it is not by lowering its demands, and accommo- 
dating them to the altered capacities or inclinations 
of men. We have seen how constantly the apostle 
teaches that the law still demands perfect obedience, 
and that they are debtors to do the whole law who 
seek justification at its hands. He no less clearly 
teaches that death is as much the wages of sin in 
our case, as it was in that of Adam. If it is neither 
by abrogation nor relaxation that we are freed from 
the demands of the law, how has this deliverance 
been effected ? By the mystery of vicarious 
obedience and suffering. This is the gospel of the 
grace of God. This is what was a scandal to 
the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks, but, to 
those that are called, the power of God and the 
wisdom of God. 

The Scriptures teach us that the Son of God, 


the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express 
image of his person, who thought it not robbery to be 
equal with God, became flesh, and subjected himself 
to the very law to which we were bound ; that he 
perfectly obeyed that law, and suffered its penalty, 
and thus, by satisfying its demands, delivered us 
from its bondage and introduced us into the glo- 
rious liberty of the sons of God. It is thus that 
the doctrine of redemption is presented in the 
Scriptures. God, says the apostle, sent forth his 
Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that 
he might redeem those that were under the law.* 
Being made under the law, we know that he obeyed 
it perfectly, and brought in everlasting righteous- 
ness, and is therefore declared to be the Lord our 
righteousness, since, by his obedience, many are con- 
stituted righteous.! He, therefore, is said to be made 
righteousness unto us4 And those who are in him 
are said to be righteous before God, not having 
their own righteousness, but that which is by the 
faith of Christ.§ 

That we are redeemed from the curse of the law 
by Christ's enduring that curse in our place, is 
taught in every variety of form from the beginning 
to the end of the Bible. There was the more need 

* Gal. iv. 4, 5. f Rom. v. 19, 

± 1 Cor. i. 30. § Phil. iii. 9. 



that this point should be clearly and variously pre- 
sented, because it is the one on which an enlightened 
conscience immediately fastens. The desert of 
death begets the fear of death. And this fear of 
death cannot be allayed, until it is seen how, in 
consistency with divine justice, we are freed from 
the righteous penalty of the law. How this is 
done the Scriptures teach in the most explicit 
manner. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse 
of the law, being made a curse for us.* Paul had 
just said, As many as are of the law are under the 
curse. But all men are naturally under the law, 
and therefore all are under the curse. How are we 
redeemed from it? By Christ's being made a 
curse for us. Such is the simple and sufficient 
answer to this most important of all questions. 

The doctrine so plainly taught in Gal. iii. 13, 
that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the 
law by bearing it in our stead, is no less clearly 
presented in 2 Cor. v. 21. He hath made him to 
be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be 
made the righteousness of God in him. This is 
represented as the only ground on which men are 
authorised to preach the gospel. We are ambassa- 
dors for Christ, says the apostle, as though God 
did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's 

* Gal. iii. 13. 


stead, be ye reconciled to God. Then follows a 
statement of the ground upon which this offer of 
reconciliation is presented. God has made effectual 
provision for the pardon of sin, by making Christ, 
though holy, harmless, and separate from sinners, 
sin for us, that we might be made righteous in him. 
The iniquities of us all were laid on him ; he was 
treated as a sinner in our place, in order that we 
might be treated as righteous in him. 

The same great truth is taught in all those par- 
sages in which Christ is said to bear our sins. 
The expression to bear sin, is one which is clearly 
explained by its frequent occurrence in the sacred 
Scriptures. It means to bear the punishment due 
to sin. In Lev. xx. 17, it is said, He that marries 
his sister, shall bear his iniquity. Again, Whoso- 
ever curseth his God, shall bear his sin. Of him 
that failed to keep the passover, it was said, that 
man shall bear his sin.* If a man sin he shall bear 
his iniquity. It is used in the same sense when 
one man is spoken of as bearing the sin of another. 
Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty 
years, and bear your whoredoms. t Our fathers 
have sinned and are not, and we have borne their 
iniquities.^ And when, in Ezekiel xviii. 20, it is 

* Numbers ix. 13. f Numbers xiv. 33. 

I Lam. v. 7. 


said that the son shall not bear the iniquity of the 
father, it is obviously meant that the son shall not 
be punished for the sins of the father. The mean- 
ing of this expression being thus definite, of course 
there can be no doubt as to the manner in which it 
is to be understood when used in reference to the 
Redeemer. The prophet says, The Lord hath 
laid on him the iniquity of us all. My righteous 
servant shall justify many, for he shall bear their 
iniquities. He was numbered with transgressors, 
and bore the sins of many.* Language more ex- 
plicit could not be used. This whole chapter is 
designed to teach one great truth, that our sins 
were to be laid on the Messiah, that we might be 
freed from the punishment which they deserved. 
It is therefore said, He was wounded for our 
transgressions ; he was bruised for our iniquities ; 
the chastisement of our peace was upon him ; for 
the transgression of my people was he smitten. In 
the New Testament, the same doctrine is taught in 
the same terms. Who his ownself bare our sins 
in his own body on the tree.t Christ was offered 
to bear the sins of many.f Ye know that he was 
manifested to take away (to bear) our sins.§ Ac- 
cording to all these representations, Christ saves us 

* Is. Hii. 6, 11, 12. f I Peter, ii. 24. 

t Heb. ix. 28. § I John iii. 5. 


from the punishment due to our sins, by bearing 
the curse of the law in our stead. 

Intimately associated with the passages just re- 
ferred to, are those which describe the Redeemer 
as a sacrifice, or propitiation. The essential idea 
of a sin-offering is propitiation by means of vica- 
rious punishment. That this is the Scriptural idea 
of a sacrifice, is plain from the laws of their insti- 
tution, from the effects ascribed to them, and from 
the illustrative declarations of the sacred writers. 
The law prescribed that the offender should bring 
the victim to the altar, lay his hands upon its head, 
make confession of his crime ; and that the animal 
should then be slain, and its blood sprinkled upon 
the altar. Thus, it is said, He shall put his hand 
upon the head of the burnt-offering, and it shall be 
accepted for him to make atonement for him.* And 
he brought the bullock for a sin-offering, and 
Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head 
of the bullock of the sin-offering.t The import 
of this imposition of hands, is clearly taught in 
the following passage : And Aaron shall lay his 
hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess 
over him all the iniquities of the children of 
Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, 
putting them upon the head of the goat, and the 

* Lev. i. 4. f lb. viii. 14. 



goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a 
land not inhabited.* The imposition of hands, 
therefore, was designed to express symbolically 
the ideas of substitution and transfer of the liability 
to punishment. In the case just referred to, in or- 
der to convey more clearly the idea of the removal 
of the liability to punishment, the goat on whose 
head the sins of the people were imposed, was sent 
into the wilderness, but another goat was slain and 
consumed in its stead. 

The nature of these offerings is further obvious 
from the effects attributed to them. They were 
commanded in order to make atonement, to propi- 
tiate, to make reconciliation, to secure the forgive- 
ness of sins. And this effect they actually secured. 
In the case of every Jewish offender, some penalty 
connected with ihe theocratical constitution under 
which he lived, was removed by the presentation and 
acceptance of the appointed sacrifice. This was all 
the effect, in the way of securing pardon, that the 
blood of bulls and of goats could produce. Their effi- 
cacy was confined to the purifying of the flesh, and 
to securing, for those who offered them, the advan- 
tages of the external theocracy. Besides, however, 
this efficacy, which, by divine appointment, belonged 
to them considered in themselves, they were in- 

* Lev. xvi. 21, 22. 


tended to prefigure and predict the true atoning 
sacrifice which was to be offered when the fulness 
of time should come. Nothing, however, can more 
clearly illustrate the Scriptural doctrine of sacrifices, 
than the expressions employed by the sacred wri- 
ters to convey the same idea as that intended by 
the term sin-offering. Thus all that Isaiah taught by 
saying of the Messiah that the chastisement of our 
peace was upon him ; that by his stripes we are 
healed ; that he was smitten for the transgression 
of the people ; that on him was laid the iniquity of 
us all, and that he bore the sins of many, he taught 
by saying, he made his soul an offering for sin. 
And in the epistle to the Hebrews it is said, He 
was offered (as a sacrifice) to bear the sins of many. 
The same idea, therefore, is expressed by saying, 
either he bore our sins, or he was made an offering 
for sin. But to bear the sins of any one, means to 
bear the punishment of those sins ; and, therefore, 
to be a sin-offering conveys the same meaning. 

Such being the idea of a sacrifice which per- 
vades the whole Jewish Scriptures, it is obvious 
that the sacred writers could not teach more dis- 
tinctly and intelligibly the manner in which Christ 
secures the pardon of sin, than by saying he was 
made an offering for sin. With this mode of pardon 
all the early readers of the Scriptures were familiar. 


They had been accustomed to it from their earliest 
years. No one of them could recall the time when 
the altar, the victim and the blood were unknown 
to him. His first lessons in religion contained the 
ideas of confession of sin, substitution and vica- 
rious sufferings and death. When, therefore, the 
inspired penmen told men imbued with these idea3 
that Christ was a propitiation for sin, that he was 
offered as a sacrifice to make reconciliation, they 
told them, in the plainest of all terms, that he secures 
the pardon of our sins by suffering in our stead. 
Jews could understand such language in no other 
way, and therefore, we may be sure it was intended 
to convey no other meaning. And in point of fact, 
it has been so understood by the Christian church 
from its first organization to the present day. 

If it were merely in the way of casual allusion 
that Christ was declared to be a sacrifice, we should 
not be authorized to infer from it the method of re- 
demption. But this is far from being the case. 
This doctrine is presented in the most didactic 
form. It is exhibited in every possible mode. It 
is asserted, illustrated, vindicated. It is made the 
central point of all divine institutions and instruc- 
tions. It is urged as the foundation of hope, as 
the source of consolation, the motive to obedience. 
It is in fact the gospel. It wouW bv vain to 


attempt a reference to all the passages in which this 
great doctrine is taught. We are told that God set 
forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins 
through faith in his blood. * Again he is declared to 
be a propitiation for our sins, and not for our's only 
but for the sins of the whole world. t He is called 
the Lamb of God that taketh away (beareth) the 
sins of the world.J Ye were not redeemed, says 
the apostle Peter, with corruptible things as silver 
and gold from your vain conversation received by 
tradition from your fathers, but with the precious 
blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and 
without spot.§ In the epistle to the Hebrews this 
doctrine is more fully exhibited than in any other 
portion of Scripture. Christ is not only repeatedly 
called a sacrifice, but an elaborate comparison is 
made between the offering which he presented 
and those which were offered under the old dispen- 
sation. If the blood of bulls and of goats, says 
the apostle, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling 
the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, 
how much more shall the blood of Christ, who 
through the eternal spirit (possessing an eternal 
spirit) offered himself without spot unto God, purge 
your conscience from dead works to serve the living 

* Rom. iii. 25. f 1 John ii. 2. 

% John i. 29. § 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. 


God.* The ancient sacrifices in themselves could 
only remove ceremonial uncleanness. They could 
not purge the conscience or reconcile the soul to 
God. They were mere shadows of the true sacri- 
fice for sins. Hence they were offered daily. 
Christ's sacrifice being really efficacious, was offer- 
ed but once. It was because the ancient sacrifices 
were ineffectual, that Christ said, when he came 
into the world, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst 
not, but a body hast thou prepared me. In burnt 
offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast no pleasure, 
Then said I, Lo I come to do thy will, O God. By 
the which will, adds the apostle, that is, by the ac- 
complishing the purpose of God, we are sanctified 
(or atoned for) through the offering of the body of 
Jesus Christ once for all ; and by that one offering 
he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, 
and of all this, he adds, the Holy Ghost is witness.! 
The Scriptures, therefore, clearly teach that Jesus 
Christ delivers us from the punishment of our sins, 
by offering himself as a sacrifice in our behalf; 
that as under the old dispensation, the penalties 
attached to the violations of the theocratical cove- 
nant, were removed by the substitution and sacri- 
fice of bulls and of goats, so under the spiritual 
theocracy, in the living temple of the living God, 

• Heb. ix. 13, 14. f Heb - *• 5 > 15 - 


the punishment of sin is removed by the substitu- 
tion and death of the Son of God. As no ancient 
Israelite, when by transgression he had forfeited 
his liberty of access to the earthly sanctuary, was 
ignorant of the mode of atonement and reconcilia- 
tion ; so now, no conscience-stricken sinner, who 
knows that he is unworthy to draw near to God 
need be ignorant of that new and living way which 
Christ hath consecrated for us, through his flesh, 
so that we have boldness to enter into the holiest by 
the blood of Jesus. 

In all the forms of expression hitherto mention- 
ed, viz : Christ was made a curse for us ; he was 
made sin for us ; he bore our sins, he was made a 
sin offering, there is the idea of substitution. Christ 
took our place, he suffered in our stead, he acted 
as our representative. But as the act of a substitute 
is in effect the act of the principal, all that Christ 
did and suffered in that character, every believer is 
regarded as having done and suffered. The atten- 
tive and pious reader of the Bible will recognise 
this idea in some of the most common forms of 
Scriptural expression. Believers are those who are 
in Christ. This is their great distinction and most 
familiar designation. They are so united to him, 
that what he did in their behalf they are declared 
to have done. When he died, they died ; when he 
rose, they rose ; as he lives, they shall live also. 


The passages in which believers are said to have 
died in Christ are very numerous. If one died for 
all, says the apostle, then all died (not, were dead.)* 
He that died (with Christ) is justified from sin, i. e. 
freed from its condemnation and power ; and if we 
died with Christ, we believe, that we shall live with 
him.t As a woman is freed by death from her hus- 
band, so believers are freed from the law by the 
body (the death) of Christ, because his death is in 
effect their death.J And in the following verse, he 
says, having died, (in Christ) we are freed from the 
law. Every believer, therefore, may say with Paul, 
I was crucified with Christ. § In like manner the 
resurrection of Christ secures both the spiritual life 
and future resurrection of all his people. If we 
have been united to him in his death, we shall be 
in his resurrection. If we died with him, we shall 
live with him.[| God, says the apostle, hath quick- 
ened us together with Christ; and hath raised us 
up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly 
places in Christ Jesus. ^[ That is, God hath quick- 
ened, raised, and exalted us together** with Christ. 

* 2 Cor. v. 14. f Rom. vi. 7, 8. * Rom. vii. 4. 

§ Gal. ii. 20. || Rom. vi. 5, 8. 1 Eph. ii. 5. 6. 

** There is no separate word in the original to answer to 
the word together, which is not to be understood of the union 
of believers with one another in the participation of these 


It is on this ground also that Paul says that Christ 
rose as the first fruits of the dead ; not merely the 
first in order, but the earnest and security of the 
resurrection of his people. For as in Adam all 
die,, so in Christ shall all be made alive.* As our 
union with Adam secures our death, union with 
Christ secures our resurrection. Adam is a type 
of him that was to come, that is Christ, inasmuch 
as the relation in which Adam stood to the whole 
race is analogous to that in which Christ stands to 
his own people. As Adam was our natural head, 
the poison of sin flows in all our veins. As 
Christ is our spiritual head, eternal life which 
is in him, descends to all his members. It is 
not they that live, but Christ that liveth in them.t 
This doctrine of the representative and vital union 
of Christ and believers, pervades the New Testa- 
ment. It is the source of the humility, the joy, 
the confidence which the sacred writers so often 
express. In themselves they were nothing- and de- 
served nothing, but in Him they possessed all 
things. Hence they counted all things but loss that 
they might be found in Him. Hence they deter- 
mined to know nothing, to preach nothing, to glory 
in nothing but in Christ and him crucified. 

blessings. It is their union with Christ that the passage as- 

* 1 Cor. xv. 20, 22, f Gal »• 20, 



The great doctrine of the vicarious sufferings and 
death of Jesus Christ, is further taught in those 
numerous passages which refer our salvation to hi*» 
blood, his death, or his cross. Viewed in connex- 
ion with the passages already mentioned, those now 
referred to not only teach the fact that the death of 
Christ secures the pardon of sin, but how it does it. 
To this class belong such declarations as the follow- 
ing. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all 
sin.* We have redemption through his blood.t 
He has made peace through the blood of his cross.;}: 
Being justified by his blood. § Ye are made nigli 
by the blood of Christ.|| Ye are come to the blood 
of sprinkling.^ Elect unto obedience and sprink- 
ling of the blood of Jesus Christ.** Unto him who 
loved us and washed us from our sins in his own 
blood. tt He hath redeemed us unto God by his 
blood.^t This cup, said the Son of God himself, 
is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed 
for many for the remission of sins.§§ The sacri- 
ficial character of the death of Christ is taught in 
all these passages. Blood was the means of atone- 
ment, and without the shedding of blood, there was 
no remission ; and, therefore, when our salvation 

* 1 John i. 7. f Eph. i. 7. 4 Col. i. 20. 

§ Rom. v. 9. (j Eph. ii. 13. 1 Heb. xii. 24. 

*• 1 Pet. i. 2. ffRev. l.v. 44 Rov. v. 9. 

§§ Matt. xxvi. 28. 

justification;. 171 

is so often ascribed to the blood of the Saviour, it 
is declared that he died as a propitiation for our sins. 
The same remark may be made in reference to 
those passages, which ascribe our redemption to 
the death, the cross, the flesh of Christ ; for these 
terms are interchanged as being of the same import. 
We are reconciled unto God by the death of his 
Son.* We are reconciled by his cross.t We 
are reconciled by the body of his flesh through 
death 4 We are delivered from the law by the 
body of Christ ;§ he abolished the law in his 
flesh ;|| he took away the handwriting, which was 
against us, nailing it to his cross. % The more 
general expressions respecting Christ's dying for 
us, receive a definite meaning from their connexion 
with the more specific passages above mentioned. 
Every one, therefore, knows what is meant, when 
it is said that Christ died for the ungodly ;** that ho 
gave himself a ransom for many ;tt that he died the 
just for the unjust that he might bring us unto 
God.fl Not less plain is the meaning of the Holy 
Spirit when it is said, God spared not his own son, 
but delivered him up for us all ;§§ that he was de- 

* Rom. v. 10. f Eph. ii 16. t Col. i. 22. 

§ Rom. vii. 4. (| Eph. ii. 15. <[ Col. ii. 14. 

** Rom. v. 6. ft Ma"- **• 28. *'* 1 Pet. iii. 18. 

§ § Rom. viii. 32. 


livered for our offences ;'* that he gave himself for 
our sins.t 

Seeing then that we owe every thing to the ex- 
piatory sufferings of the blessed Saviour, we cease 
to wonder that the Cross is rendered so prominent 
in the exhibition of the plan of salvation. We arc 
not surprised at Paul's anxiety lest the cross of 
Christ should be made of none effect; or that he 
should call the preaching of the gospel the preach- 
ing of the cross ; or that he should preach Christ 
crucified, both to Jews and Greeks, as the wisdom 
of God and the power of God, or that he should 
determine to glory in nothing save in the Cross of 

As there is no truth more necessary to be known, 
so there is none more variously or plainly taught 
than the method of escaping the wrath of God due 
to us for sin. Besides all the clear exhibitions of 
Christ as bearing our sins, as dying in our stead, as 
making his soul an offering for sin, as redeeming us 
by his blood, the Scriptures set him forth in the 
character of a Priest, in order that we might more 
fully understand how it is that he effects our salva- 
tion. It was predicted long before his advent that 
the Messiah was to be a priest. Thou art a priest 
forever after the order of Melchizedeck, was the 

* Rom. iv. 25 f Gal. i. 4. 


declaration of the Holy Spirit by the mouth of 
David. •■ Zechariah predicted that he should sit as 
a priest upon his throne. t The apostle defines a 
priest to be a man ordained for men in things per- 
taining unto God, that he may offer both gifts and 
sacrifices for sins.i Jesus Christ is the only real 
priest in the universe. All others were either pre- 
tenders, or the shadow of the great High Priest of 
our profession. For this office he had every neces- 
sary qualification. He was a man. For inasmuch 
as the children were partakers of flesh and blood 
he also took part of the same in order that he might 
be a merciful and faithful high priest; one who can 
be touched with a sense of our infirmities, seeing 
he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet 
without sin. He was sinless. For such a high 
priest became us who was holy, harmless and sepa- 
rate from sinners. He was the Son of God. The 
law made men having infirmity, priests. But God 
declared his Son to be a priest, who is consecrated 
for evermore. § The sense in which Christ is de- 
clared to be the Son of God, is explained in the 
first chapter of this epistle. It is there said, that 
he is the express image of God ; that he upholds 
all things by the word of his power ; that all the 

* Ps. ex. 4. f Zechariah, \i. 13. 

t Hcb. v. I § Heb. vii. 28. 


angels are commanded to worship him ; that his 
throne is an everlasting throne ; that in the begin- 
ning he laid the foundations of the earth ; that he 
is from everlasting, and that his years fail not. It 
is from the dignity of his person, as possessing this 
divine nature, that the apostle deduces the efficacy 
of his sacrifice,* the perpetuity of his priesthood,! 
and his ability to save to the uttermost all who 
come unto God through him.J He was duly con- 
stituted a priest. He glorified not himself to be 
made a high priest, but he that said to him, Thou 
art my Son, said also, Thou art a priest for ever. 
He is the only real priest and, therefore, his advent 
superseded all others, and put an immediate end to 
all their lawful ministrations, by abolishing the 
typical dispensation with which they were con- 
nected. For the priesthood being changed, there 
was of necessity a change of the law. There 
was a disannulling of the former commandment for 
the weakness and unprofitableness thereof, and 
there was the introduction of a better hope.§ He has 
an appropriate offering to present. As every high 
priest is appointed to offer sacrifices, it was neces- 
sary that this man should have somewhat to offer. 
This sacrifice was not the blood of goats or of 

* Heb. ut. 14. f Ibid. vii. 1G. 

* Ibid. vii. 25. § Ibid. vii. 12, 19. 


calves, but his own blood ; it was himself lie offer- 
ed unto God, to purge our conscience from dead 
works.* He has put away sin by the sacrifice of 
himself, which was accomplished when he was 
once offered to bear the sins of many.t He has 
passed into the heavens. As the high priest was 
required to enter into the most holy place with the 
blood of atonement, so Christ has entered not into 
the holy place made with hands, but into heaven 
itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,t. 
and where he ever lives to make intercession for 

Seeing then we have a great High Priest, that is 
passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, 
(let the reader remember what that means), who is 
set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, 
having by himself purged our sins and made recon- 
ciliation for the sins of the people, every humble 
believer who commits his soul into the hands of this 
High Priest, may come with boldness to the throne 
of grace, assured that he shall find mercy and grace 
to help in time of need. 

* Heb. ix. 12, 14. f Ibid. ix. 26, 28. 

* Ibid. ix. 24. § Ibid. vii. 25. 


Section III. The righteousness of Christ the true ground 
of our Justification. The practical effects of this doctrine. 

The Bible, as we have seen, teaches, first, that we 
are under a law which demands perfect obedience 
and which threatens death in case of transgression ; 
secondly, that all men have failed in rendering that 
obedience, and therefore, are subject to the threat- 
ened penalty ; thirdly, that Christ has redeemed us 
from the law by being made under it and .in our 
place, satisfying its demands. It only remains 10 
be shown that this perfect righteousness of Christ 
is presented as the ground of our justification be- 
fore God. 

In scriptural language condemnation is a sen- 
tence of death pronounced upon sin ; justification 
is a sentence of life pronounced upon righteousness. 
As this righteousness is not our own, as we are 
sinners, ungodly, without works, it must be the 
righteousness of another, even of him who is our 
righteousness. Hence we find so constantly the 
distinction between our own righteousness and that 
which God gives. The Jews, the apostle says, 
being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going 
about to establish their own righteousness, would 
not submit themselves unto the righteousness of 


God." This was the rock on which they split. 
They knew that justification required a righteous- 
ness ; they insisted on urging their own, imperfect 
as it was, and would not accept of that which God 
had provided in the merits of his Son, who is the 
end of the law for righteousness to every one that 
believes. The same idea is presented in Rom. ix. 
30, 32, where Paul sums up the case of the rejec- 
tion of the Jews and the acceptance of believers. 
The Gentiles have attained righteousness, even the 
righteousness which is of faith. But Israel hath not 
attained it. Wherefore ? Because they sought it 
not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. 
The Jews would not receive and confide in the 
righteousness which God had provided, but endea- 
voured, by works, to prepare a righteousness of their 
own. This was the cause of their ruin. In direct 
contrast to the course pursued by the majority of 
his kinsmen, we find Paul renouncing all depend- 
ence upon his own righteousness, and thankfully 
receiving that which God had provided. Though 
he had every advantage and every temptation to trnst 
in himself, that any man could have ; for he was one 
of the favoured people of God, circumcised on the 
eighth day, and touching the righteousness which is 
in the law, blameless, yet all these thing? he counted 

* Kom. x. 3. 


but loss, that lie might win Christ, and be found in 
him, not having his own righteousness, which is of 
the law, but that which is through the faith of 
Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.* 
Here the two righteousnesses arc brought distinctly 
into view. The one was his own, consisting in 
obedience to the law ; this Paul rejects as inade- 
quate, and unworthy of acceptance. The other is 
of God and received by faith ; this Paul accepts 
and glories in as all sufficient and as alone sufficient. 
This is the righteousness which the apostle says 
God imputes to those without works. Hence it is 
called a gift, a free gift, a gift by grace, and be- 
lievers are described as those who receive this gift 
of righteousness. t Hence we are never said to be 
justified by any thing done by us or wrought in us, 
but by what Christ has done for us. We are justi- 
fied through the redemption that is in him.:t We 
are justified by his blood. § We are justified by his We are justified by him from all 
things. ^[ He is our righteousness.** We are made 
the righteousness of God in him. ft We are justified 
in his iiame.t:|: There is no condemnation to those 
who are in him.§§ Justification is, therefore, by 

* Phil. iii. 0. f Rom. v. 17. t Rom. iii. 24. 

§ Rom. v. 9. || Rom. v. 19. Tf Actsxiii. 39. 

** 1 Cor. i. 30. ff 2 Cor. v. 21. ft 1 Cor. vi. 11. 

§§ Rom. viii. 1. 


faith in Christ, because faith is receiving and trust- 
ing to him as our Saviour, as having done all that is 
required to secure our acceptance before God. 

It is thus then the Scriptures answer the question, 
How can a man be just with God ? When the 
soul is burdened with a sense of sin, when it sees 
how reasonable and holy is that law which demands 
perfect obedience and which threatens death as the 
penalty of transgression ; when it feels the absolute 
impossibility of ever satisfying these just demands 
by its own obedience and sufferings, it is then that 
the revelation of Jesus Christ as our righteousness, 
is fell to be the wisdom and power of God unto sal- 
vation. Destitute of all righteousness in ourselves, 
we have our righteousness in him. What we 
could not do he has done for us. The righteousness, 
therefore, on the ground of which the sentence of 
justification is passed upon the believing sinner, is 
not his own but that of Jesus Christ. 

It is one of the strongest evidences of the divine 
origin of the Scriptures that they are suited to the 
nature and circumstances of man. If their doctrines 
were believed and their precepts obeyed, men would 
stand in their true relation to God, and the different 
classes of men to each other. Parents and children, 
husbands and wives, rulers and subjects, would be 
found in their proper sphere, and would attain the 


highest possible degree of excellence and happi- 
ness. Truth is in order to holiness. And all truth 
is known to be truth, by its tendency to promote 
holiness. As this test when applied to the Scrip- 
tures generally, evinces their divine perfection, so 
when applied to the cardinal doctrine of justification 
by faith in Jesus Christ, it shows that doctrine to 
be worthy of all acceptation. On this ground it is 
commended by the sacred writers. They declare 
it to be in the highest degree honorable to God and 
beneficial to man. They assert that it is so arranged 
as to display the wisdom, justice, holiness and love 
of God, while it secures the pardon, peace and 
holiness of men. If it failed in either of these ob- 
jects ; if it were not suited to the divine character, 
or to our nature and necessities, it could not answer 
the end for which it was designed. 

It will be readily admitted that the glory of God 
in the exhibition or revelation of the divine perfec- 
tions is the highest conceivable end of creation and 
redemption ; and consequently that any doctrine 
which is suited to make such exhibition is, on that 
account, worthy of being universally received and 
gloried in. Now the inspired writers teach us that 
it is peculiarly in the plan of redemption that the 
divine perfections are revealed ; that it was designed 
to show unto principalities and powers the manifold 


jrisdom of God ; that Christ was set forth as a pro- 
pitiatory sacrifice to exhibit his righteousness or 
justice ; and especially that in the ages to come he 
might show fortli the exceeding riches of his grace 
in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. It is 
the love of God, the breadth and length and depth 
and heigth of which pass knowledge, that is 
here most conspicuously displayed. Some men 
strangely imagine thai the death of Christ procured 
for us the love of God ; whereas it was the effect 
and not the cause of that love. Christ did not die 
that God might love us ; but he died because God 
loved us. God commendeth his love towards us 
in that while we were sinners Christ died for us. 
He so loved the world that he gave his only be- 
gotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might 
not perish, but have eternal life. In this was 
manifested the love of God towards us, because 
God sent his only begotten Son into the world, 
thnt we might live through him. Herein is love, 
not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and 
sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

As this love of God is manifested towards the 
unworthy, it is called grace, and this it is that the 
Scriptures dwell upon with such peculiar frequency 
and earnestness. The mystery of redemption is, 
that a Being of infinite holiness and justice should 
manifest such wonderful love to sinners. Hence 


the sacred writers so earnestly denounce every thing 
that obscures this peculiar feature of the gospel ; 
everything which represents men as worthy, as 
meriting, or, in any way by their own goodness, 
securing the exercise of this love of God. It is of 
grace lest any man should boast. We are justified 
by grace ; we are saved by grace ; and if of grace 
it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no mors 
grace. The apostle teaches us not only that the 
plan of salvation had its origin in the unmerited 
kindness of God, and that our acceptance with him 
is in no way or degree founded in our own worthi- 
ness, but moreover, that the actual administration 
of the economy of mercy is so conducted as to 
magnify this attribute of the divine character. God 
chooses the foolish, the base, the weak, yea those 
who are nothing, in order that no flesh should glory 
in his presence. Christ is made everything to us, 
that those who glory, should glory only in the 

It cannot fail to occur to every reader that unless 
he sincerely rejoices in this feature of the plan of 
redemption, unless he is glad that the whole glory 
of his salvation belongs to God, his heart cannot 
be in accordance with the gospel. If he believes 
that the ground of his acceptance is in himself, or 

• 1 Cor. i. 27, 31. 


even wishes that it were so, he is not prepared to 
join in those grateful songs of acknowledgment to 
Him, who hath saved us and called us with an holy- 
calling, not according to our works, but according 
to his own purpose and grace, which it is the delight 
of the redeemed to offer unto him that loved them 
and gave himself for them. It is most obvious that 
the sacred writers are abundant in the confession of 
their un worthiness in the sight of God. They 
acknowledged that they were unworthy absolutely 
and unworthy comparatively. It was of grace that 
any man was saved ; and it was of grace that they 
were saved rather than others. It is, therefore, all 
of grace, that God may be exalted and glorified in 
all them that believe. 

The doctrine of the gratuitous justification of 
sinners by faith in Jesus Christ, not only displays 
the infinite love of God, but it is declared to be 
peculiarly honourable to him, or peculiarly con- 
sistent with his attributes, because it is adapted to 
all men. Is he the God of the Jews only ? Is he 
not also of the Gentiles ? Yes of the Gentiles also ; 
seeing it is one God who shall justify the circum- 
cision by faith, and theuncircumcision through faith. 
For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call 
upon him. For whosoever shall call on the name 
of the Lord shall be saved. This is no narrow, 
national, or sectarian doctrine. It is as broad as the 


earth. Wherever men, the creatures of God ca:< 
be found, there the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, 
may be preached. The apostle greatly exults in 
this feature of the plan of redemption, as worthy 
of God; and as making the gospel the foundation 
of a religion for all nations and ages. In revealing 
a salvation sufficient for all and suited for ail, it 
discloses God in his true character, as the God 
and Father of all. 

The Scriptures, however, represent this great 
doctrine as not less suited to meet the necessities 
of man, than it is to promote the glory of God. 
If it exalts God, it humbles man. If it renders it 
manifest that he is a Being of infinite holiness, 
justice and love, it makes us feel that we are desti- 
tute of all merit, nay are most ill-deserving ; that we 
are without strength ; that our salvation is an unde- 
served favour. As nothing is more true than the 
guilt and helplessness of men, no plan of redemp- 
tion which does not recognise these facts could ever 
be in harmony with our inward experience, or com- 
mand the full acquiescence of the penitent soul. 
The ascription of merit which we are conscious we 
do not deserve, produces of itself severe distress ; 
and if this false estimate of our deserts is the ground 
of the exhibition of special kindness towards us, it 
destroys the happiness such kindness would other' 
wise produce. To a soul, therefore, sensible of 


its pollution and guilt in the sight of God, the doc- 
trine that it is saved on account of its own goodness, 
or because it is better than other men, is discordant 
and destructive of its peace. Nothing but an abso- 
lutely gratuitous salvation can suit a soul sensible 
of its ill-desert. Nothing else suits its views of 
truth, or its sense of right. The opposite doctrine 
involves a falsehood and a moral impropriety in 
which neither the reason nor conscience can acqui- 
esce. The scriptural doctrine, which assumes 
what we know to be true, viz : our guilt and help- 
lessness, places us in our proper relation to God ; 
that relation which accords with the truth, with our 
sense of right, with our inward experience, and 
with every proper desire of our hearts. This is 
one of the reasons why the Scriptures represent 
peace as the consequence of justification by faith. 
There can be no peace while the soul is not in har- 
mony with God, and there can be no such harmony 
until it willingly occupies its true position in rela- 
tion to God. So long as it does not acknowledge 
its true character, so long as it acts on the assump- 
tion of its ability to merit or to earn the divine favour, 
it is in a false position. Its feelings towards God 
are wrong, and there is no manifestation of appro- 
bation or favour on the part of God towards the 
soul. But when we take our true place and feel 
our ill-dessrt, and look upon pardoning mercy as 


a mere gratuity, we find access to God and his love 
is shed abroad in our hearts, producing that peace 
which passes all understanding. The soul ceases 
from its legal strivings ; it gives over the vain at- 
tempt to make itself worthy, or to work out a 
righteousness wherewith to appear before God. It 
is contented to be accepted as unworthy, and to 
receive as a gift a righteousness which can bear the 
scrutiny of God. Peace, therefore, is not the result 
of the assurance of mere pardon, but of pardon 
founded upon a righteousness which illustrates the 
character of God, which magnifies the law and 
makes it honorable ; which satisfies the justice of 
God while it displays the infinite riches of divine 
tenderness and love. The soul can find no objec- 
tion to such a method of forgiveness. It is not 
pained by the ascription of merit to itself, which is 
felt to be undeserved. Its utter unworthiness is not 
only recognised but openly declared. Nor is it 
harassed by the anxious doubt whether God can 
consistently with his justice forgive sin. For justice 
is as clearly revealed in the cross of Christ, as love. 
The whole soul, therefore, however enlightened, or 
however sensitive, acquiesces with humility and 
delight in a plan of mercy which thus honours God, 
and which, while it secures the salvation of the 
sinner, permits him to hide himself in the radiance 
which surrounds his Saviour. 


The apostles moreover, urge on men the doctrine 
of justification by faith with peculiar earnestness 
because it presents the only method of deliverance 
from sin. So long as men are under the condemna- 
tion of the law, and feel themselves bound by its 
demands of obedience as the condition and ground 
of their acceptance with God, they do and must 
feel that he is unreconciled, that his perfections are 
arrayed against them. Their whole object is to 
propitiate him by means which they know to be 
inadequate. Their spirit is servile, their religion 
a bondage, their God is a hard master. To men in 
such a state, true love, true obedience and real 
peace are alike impossible. But when they are 
brought to see that God, through his infinite love, 
has set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our 
sins, that he might be just, and yet justify those 
that believe ; that it is not by works of righteous- 
ness which we have done, but according to his 
mercy he saveth us ; they are emancipated from 
their former bondage and made the sons of God. 
God is no longer a hard master, but a kind Father. 
Obedience is no longer a task to be done for a re- 
ward ; it is the joyful expression of filial love. 
The whole relation of the soul to God is changed, 
and all our feelings and conduct change with it. 
Though we have no works to perform in order to 
justification, we have every thing to do in order to 


manifest our gratitude and love. Do we, therefore, 
make void the law through faith ? God forbid : yea, 
we establish the law. There is no such thing as 
real, acceptable obedience until we are thus deliver- 
ed from the bondage of the law as the rule of justi- 
fication, and are reconciled to God by the death of 
his Son. Till then we are slaves and enemies, and 
have the feelings of slaves. When we have ac- 
cepted the terms of reconciliation we are the sons 
of God and have the feelings of sons. 

It must not, however, be supposed that the filial, 
obedience rendered by the children of God, is the 
effect of the mere moral influence arising from a 
sense of his favour. Though perhaps the strongest 
influence which any external consideration can 
exert, it is far from being the source of the holi- 
ness which always follows faith. The very act 
by which we become interested in the redemption 
of Christ, from the condemnation of the law, 
makes us partakers of his Spirit. It is not mere 
pardon, or any other isolated blessing, that is offer- 
ed to us in the gospel, but complete redemption, 
deliverance from evil and restoration to the love and 
life of God. Those, therefore, who believe, are 
not merely forgiven, but are so united to Christ, that 
they derive from and through him, the Holy Spirit. 
This is his great gift, bestowed upon all who come 
to Ilim and confide in Him. This is the reason why 


he says, Without me, ye can do nothing. As the 
branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in 
the vine ; no more can ye, except ye abide in 
me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that 
abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth 
forth much fruit. 

The gospel method of salvation, therefore, is 
worthy of all acceptation. It reveals the divine 
perfections in the clearest and most affecting light, 
and it is in every way suited to the character and 
necessities of men. It places us in our true posi- 
tion as undeserving sinners ; and it secures pardon, 
peace of conscience and holiness of life. It is the 
wisdom and the power of God unto salvation. It 
cannot be a matter of surprise that the Scriptures 
represent the rejection of this method of redemp- 
tion, as the prominent ground of the condemnation 
of those who perish under the sound of the gospel. 
That the plan should be so clearly revealed and yet 
men should insist upon adopting some other better 
suited to their inclinations, is the height of folly 
and disobedience. That the Son of God should 
come into the world ; die the just for the unjust, and 
oiler us eternal life, and yet we should reject his 
proffered mercy, proves such an insensibility to his 
excellence and love, such a love for sin, such a dis- 
regard of the approbation and enjoyment of God, 
that could all other grounds of condemnation be 


removed, this alone would be sufficient. He that 
believeth not, is condemned already, because he 
hath not believed in the name of the only begotten 
Son of God. 



Section I. Faith necessary in order to salvation. The 
nature of saving Faith. 

However abundant and suitable may be the 
provision which God has made for the salvation of 
men, there are many who fail of attaining eternal 
life. There are those whom Christ shall profit 
nothing. Nay, there are those whose condemna- 
tion will be greatly aggravated, because they have 
known and rejected the Son of God, the Saviour 
of the world. It is, therefore, not less necessary 
that we should know what we must do in order 
to secure an interest in the redemption of Christ, 
than that we should understand what he has done 
for our salvation. 

If God has revealed a plan of salvation for 
sinners, they must, in order to be saved, acquiesce 
in its provisions. By whatever name it may be 
called, the thing to be done, is to approve and 


192 FAITH. 

accept of the terms of salvation presented in the 
gospel. As the plan of redemption is designed for 
sinners, the reception of that plan on our part, 
implies an acknowledgment that we are sinners, 
and justly exposed to the displeasure of God. To 
those who have no such sense of guilt, it must 
appear foolishness and an offence. As it proceeds 
upon the assumption of the insufficiency of any 
obedience of our own to satisfy the demands of 
the law, acquiescence in it, involves the renuncia- 
tion of all dependence upon our own righteousness 
as the ground of our acceptance with God. If 
salvation is of grace, it must be received as such. 
To introduce our own merit, in any form or to any 
degree, is to reject it; because grace and works 
are essentially opposed ; in trusting to the one we 
renounce the other. 

As justification is pardon and acceptance dis- 
pensed on the ground of the righteousness of 
Christ, acquiesence in the plan of salvation involves 
the recognition and acceptance of the work of 
Christ as the only ground of justification before 
God. However much the child of God may be 
perplexed with anxious doubts, and vain endeavours, 
he is brought at last to see and admire the perfect 
simplicity of the plan of mercy ; he finds that it 
requires nothing on his part but the acceptance of 
what is freely offered ; the acceptance of it as 


free and unmerited. It is under the consciousness 
of ill-desert and helplessness that the soul em- 
braces Jesus Christ as he is presented in the 
gospel. This it is that God requires of us in 
order to our justification. As soon as this is done, 
we are united to Christ ; he assumes our responsi- 
bilities ; he pleads our cause ; he secures our 
pardon and acceptance on the ground of what he 
has done; so that there is no condemnation* to 
them that are in Christ Jesus. 

The nature of the duty required of us in order 
k) our justification, is made, if possible, still more 
plain by the account which the Bible gives of 
(hose who are condemned. They are described as 
those who reject Christ, who go about to establish 
their own righteousness, and refuse to submit to 
the righteousness of God ; as those who look to 
the law or their own works, instead of relying on 
the work of Christ. They are those who reject 
the counsel of God against themselves, who, igno- 
rant of their character and of the requirements of 
God, refuse to be saved by grace through the re- 
demption that is in Christ Jesus. 

The word by which this acceptance of Christ is 
commonly expressed in the Bible, is faith. God 
v~o loved the world that he gave his only begotten 
Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not 
perish but have eternal life. He that believeth on 



him is not condemned ; but he that believeth not 
is condemned already. He that believeth on the 
Son hath everlasting life ; he that believeth not the 
Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth 
on him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that 
believeth on me hath everlasting life. Go ye into 
all the world and preach the gospel to every crea- 
ture ; he that believeth and is baptized shall be 
saved, he that believeth not shall be damned. Sirs, 
what must I do to be saved ? and they said, Believe 
on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. 
God is just and the justifier of him that believeth 
in Jesus. The Gentiles have attained righteousness, 
even the righteousness which is by faith; but 
Israel hath not attained it, because they sought it 
not by faith. Knowing that a man is not justified 
by works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus 
Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that 
we might be justified by the faith of Christ and 
not by the works of the law. By grace are ye 
saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it 
is the gift of God. This is his commandment, 
That we should believe on his son Jesus Christ. 
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the wit- 
ness in himself. 

Language so plain and so varied as this, cannot be 
misunderstood. It teaches every serious inquirer 
after the way of life, that in order to salvation, he 

FAITH. 195 

must believe in Jesus Christ. Still, though he 
knows what it is to believe, as well as any one can 
tell him, yet as he reads of a dead, as well as of a 
living faith, a faith of devils and a faith of God's 
elect ; as he reads on one page that he that believes 
shall be saved, and on another, that Simon himself 
believed, and yet remained in the gall of bitterness 
and the bonds of iniquity, he is often greatly per- 
plexed and at a loss to determine what that faith is 
which is connected with salvation. This is a diffi- 
culty which is inseparable from the use of lan- 
guage. The soul of man is so wonderful in its 
operations ; its perceptions, emotions, and affec- 
tions are so various and so complicated, that it is 
impossible there should be a different word for 
every distinct exercise. It is therefore absolutely 
necessary that the same word should be used to 
express different states of mind, which have certain 
prominent characteristics in common. The definite, 
in distinction from the general or comprehensive 
meaning of the word, is determined by the con- 
text ; by explanatory or equivalent expressions ; by 
the nature of the thing spoken of, and by the 
effects ascribed to it. This is found sufficient for 
all the purposes of intercourse and instruction. 
We can speak without being misunderstood, of 
loving our food, of loving an infant, of loving a 
parent, of loving God, though in each of these 

196 faith. 

cases the word love represents a state of mind 
peculiar to itself, and different from all the others. 
There is in all of them a pleasurable excitement on 
the perception of certain qualities, and this we call 
love, though no two states of mind can well be 
more distinct, than the complacent fondness with 
which a parent looks upon his infant, and the 
adoring reverence with which he turns his soul to- 
wards God. 

We need not be surprised, therefore, that the 
Avord faith is used in Scripture to express very dif- 
ferent exercises, or states of mind. In its widest 
sense, faith is an assent to truth upon the exhibition 
of evidence. It does not seem necessary that this 
evidence should be of the nature of testimony ; 
for we are commonly and properly said to believe 
whatever we regard as true. We believe in the 
existence and attributes of God, though our assent 
is not founded upon what is strictly called testi- 
mony. But if faith means assent to truth, it is 
obvious that its nature and attendants must vary 
with the nature of the truth believed, and especially 
with the nature of the evidence upon which our 
assent is founded. A man may assent to the propo- 
sition, that the earth moves round its axis, that 
virtue is good, that sin will be punished, that to 
him, as a believer, God promises salvation. In all 
these cases there is assent, and therefore faith, but 

FAITH. 197 

the state of mind expressed by the term, is not 
always the same. Assent to a speculative or abstract 
truth is a speculative act, ; assent to a moral truth, 
is a moral act; assent to a promise made to our- 
selves, is an act of trust. Our belief that the earth 
moves round its axis is a mere assent. Our belief 
itl the excellence of virtue is, in its nature, a moral 
judgment. Our belief of a promise is an act of 
trust. Or if any choose to say that trust is the 
result of assent to the truth of the promise, it may 
be admitted as a mere matter of analysis, but the 
distinction is of no consequence, because the two 
things are inseparable, and because the Scriptures 
do not make the distinction. In the language of 
the Bible, faith in the promises of God is a believ- 
ing reliance, and no blessing is connected with 
mere assent as distinguished and separated from 

It is, however, of more consequence to remark 
that the nature of the act by which we assent to 
truth, is modified by the kind of evidence upon 
which our assent is founded. The blind may be- 
lieve, on the testimony of others, in the existence 
of colours and the deaf in the harmony of sounds, 
but their faith is very different from the faith of those 
who enjoy the exercise of the sense of sight or 
hearing. The universal reputation of such men 
as Bacon and Newton and the acknowledged 

198 FAITH. 

influence of their writings, may be the foundation 
of a very rational conviction of their intellectual 
superiority. But a conviction, founded upon the 
perusal and appreciation of their own works, is of 
an essentially different character. We may believe 
on the testimony of those in whose veracity and 
judgment we confide, that a man of whom we 
know nothing has great moral excellence. But if 
we see for ourselves the exhibition of his excel- 
lence, we believe for other reasons, and in a differ- 
ent way. The state of mind, therefore, which, in 
the language of common life and in that of the 
sacred Scriptures, is expressed by the word faith, 
varies essentially with the nature of the evidence 
upon which our belief rests. 

One man believes the Bible to be the word of 
God, and the facts and doctrines therein contained 
to be true, simply on the testimony of others. 
Born in a Christian land and taught by his parents to 
regard the Scriptures as a revelation from God, lie 
yields a general assent to the truth, without troubling 
himself with any personal examination into the 
evidence upon which it rests. Another believes 
because he has investigated the subject. He sees 
that there is no rational way of accounting for the 
miracles, the accomplishment of predictions, the 
success and influence of the gospel, except upon 
the assumption of its divine origin. Others, again, 

FAITH. 199 

believe because the truths of the Bible commend 
themselves to their reason and conscience, and ac- 
cord with their inward experience. Those, whose 
faith rests upon this foundation, often receive 
the word with joy, they do many things, and have 
much of the appearance of true Christians ; or, 
like Felix, they believe and tremble. This is the 
foundation of the faith which often surprises the 
wicked in their last hours. Men who all their lives 
have neglected or reviled the truth and who may have 
accumulated a treasury of objections to the authority 
of the Scriptures, are often brought to believe by a 
power which they cannot resist. An awakened 
conscience affirms the truth with an authority be- 
fore which they quail. Their doubts and sophis- 
tries fly affrighted before the majesty of this new 
revealed witness for the truth. To disbelieve is 
now impossible. That there is a God, that he is 
holy and just, and that there is a hell, they would give 
the world to doubt, but cannot. Here is a faith 
very different in its origin, nature, and effects from 
that which rests upon the authority of men, or upon 
external evidence and argument. Though the faith 
just described, is generally most strikingly exhibited 
at the approach of death, it often happens that men 
who are habitually careless, are suddenly arrested 
in their career. Their conscience is aroused and 
enlightened. They feel those things to be true, 

200 FAITH. 

which before they either denied or disregarded 
The truth, therefore, has great power over them. 
It destroys their former peace. It forces them to 
self-denial and the performance of religious duties. 
Sometimes this influence soon wears off, as con- 
science subsides into its accustomed slumber. At 
others it continues long, even to the end of life. It 
then constitutes that spirit of bondage and fear 
under which its unhappy subjects endeavour to 
work out a way to heaven, without embracing the 
gospel of the grace of God. The effects produced 
by a faith of this kind, though specifically different 
from the fruits of the Spirit, are not always easily 
detected by the eye of man. And hence many 
who appear outwardly as the children of God, are 
inwardly under the dominion of a spirit the oppo- 
site of the loving, confiding, filial temper of the 

There is a faith different from any of those forms 
of belief which have yet been mentioned. It is a 
faith which rests upon the manifestation by the 
Holy Spirit, of the excellence, beauty, and suita- 
bleness of the truth. This is what Peter calls the 
precious faith of God's elect. It arises from a 
spiritual apprehension of the truth, or from the tes- 
timony of the Spirit with and by the truth in our 
hearts. Of this faitli the Scriptures make frequent 
mention. Christ said, I thank thee, Father 

FAITH. 201 

Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these 
things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed 
them unto babes.* The external revelation was 
made equally to the wise and to the babes. To 
the latter, however, was granted an inward illumi- 
nation which enabled them to see the excellence of 
the truth, which commanded their joyful assent. 
Our Saviour therefore added, No man knoweth 
who the Son is, but the Father ; and who the Father 
is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal 
him. AVhen Peter made his confession of faith in 
Christ, our Saviour said to him, Blessed art thou, 
Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not re- 
vealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in 
heaven.t Paul was a persecutor of the church ; 
but when it pleased God to reveal his Son in him, 
he at once preached the faith which he before de- 
stroyed. He had an external knowledge of Christ 
before ; but this internal revelation he experienced 
on his way to Damascus, and it effected an instant 
change in his whole character. There was nothing 
miraculous or peculiar in the conversion of the 
apostle, except in the mere incidental circumstances 
of his case. He speaks of all believers as having 
the same divine illumination. God, he says, who 
commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath 

* Luke x. 21. \ Matthew xvi. 17. 

202 FAITH. 

shined into our hearts, to give us the light of die 
knowledge of the glory of God, as it shines in the 
face of Jesus Christ.* On the other hand, he 
speaks of those whose minds the god of this world 
hath blinded, lest the light of the glorious gospel 
of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine 
unto them. In the second chapter of his first 
epistle to the Corinthians, he dwells much upon 
this subject, and teaches not only that the true 
divine wisdom of the gospel was undiscoverable 
by human wisdom, but that when externally re- 
vealed, we need the Spirit that we may know the 
things freely given to us of God. For the natural 
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 
for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he 
know them for they are spiritually discerned. 
Hence the apostle prays for his readers, that the 
eyes of their understandings (hearts) might be 
opened, that they might know the hope of their 
calling, the riches of their inheritance, and the 
greatness of the divine power of which they were 
the subjects.! And in another place, that they 
might be filled with the knowledge of his will, in 
all wisdom and spiritual understanding.}: By 
spiritual understanding is meant that insight into 

* 2 Cor. iv. 6. f EpU. i. 18, 19. 

X Colossians, i. 9. 

FAITH. 203 

the nature of the truth which is the result of the 
influence of the Spirit upon the heart. Since faith 
is founded on this spiritual apprehension, Paul says, 
he preached not with the enticing words of man's 
wisdom, because a faith which resulted from such 
preaching could be at best a rational conviction ; 
but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 
that the faith of his hearers might stand, not in the 
wisdom of men, but in the power of God.* Hence 
faith is said to be one of the fruits of the Spirit, 
the gift of God, the result of his operation. t These 
representations of the Scriptures accord with the 
experience of the people of God. They know 
that their faith is not founded upon the testimony 
of others, or exclusively or mainly upon external 
evidence. They believe because the truth appears 
to them both true and good ; because they feel its 
power and experience its consolations. 

It is obvious that a faith founded upon the 
spiritual apprehension of the truth, as it differs in 
its origin, must also differ in its effects, from every 
other kind of belief. Of the multitudes who be- 
lieve the Scriptures upon authority or on the ground 
of external evidence, how large a portion disre- 
gard their precepts and warnings! To say that 
such persons do not believe, though true in one 

* 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. f Eph. ii. 8, Col. ii. 12. 

204 FAITH. 

sense, is not true in another. They do believe ; 
and to assert the contrary is to contradict their con- 
sciousness. The state of mind which they exhibit, 
is in the Bible called faith, though it is dead. 
This rational conviction, in other cases, combined 
with other causes, produces that decorous atten- 
tion to the duties of religion and that general pro- 
priety of conduct, which are so often exhibited by 
the hearers of the gospel. The faith which is 
founded on the power of conscience produces still 
more marked effects ; either temporary obedience 
and joy, or the despair and opposition manifested 
by the convinced, the dying, and the lost; or that 
laborious slavery of religion of which we have 
already spoken. But that faith which is the gift 
of God, which arises from his opening our eyes to 
see the excellence of the truth, is attended with 
joy and love. These feelings are as immediately 
and necessarily attendant on this kind of faith, as 
pleasure is on the perception of beauty. Hence 
faith is said to work by love. And as all revealed 
truth is the object of the faith of which we now 
speak, every truth must, in proportion to the 
strength of our faith, produce its appropriate effect 
upon the heart. A belief of the being and per- 
fections of God, founded upon the apprehension 
of his glory, must produce love, reverence and 
confidence, with a desire to be conformed to his 

FAITH. 205 

image. Hence the apostle says : We all, with open 
face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of God, 
are changed into the same image from glory to 
glory, as by the spirit of the Lord. * Faith in his 
threatenings, founded upon a perception of their 
justice, their harmony with his perfections, and 
the ill-desert of sin, must produce fear and trembling. 
His people, therefore, are described as those who 
tremble at his word. Faith in his promises, 
founded upon the apprehension of his faithfulness 
and power, their harmony with all his revealed 
purposes, their suitableness to our nature and ne- 
cessities, must produce confidence, joy and hope. 
This was the faith which made Abraham leave his 
own country, to go to a strange land ; which led 
Moses to esteem the reproach of Christ greater 
riches than the treasures of Egypt. This was the 
faith of David also, of Samuel, and of all the 
prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, 
wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped 
the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, 
escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness 
were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned 
to flight the armies of the aliens. This is the faitli 
which leads all the people of God to confess that 

* 2 Cor. iii. 18. 


206 FAITH. 

they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, an' I 
that they look for a city which hath foundations, 
whose builder and maker is God. This is the 
faith which overcomes the world, which leads the 
believer to set his affections on things above, where 
Christ sitteth at the right hand of God ; which 
enables him to glory even in tribulation, while he 
looks not at the things which are seen, but at the 
things which are not seen ; for the things that are 
seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen 
are eternal. 

And what shall we say of a faith in Jesus Christ 
founded upon the apprehension of the glory of God, 
as it shines in him ; which beholds that glory as 
the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of 
grace and truth ; which contemplates the Redeemer 
as clothed in our nature ; the first born of many 
brethren ; as dying for our sins, rising again for 
our justification, ascending into heaven and as now 
seated at the right hand of God, where he ever 
liveth to make intercession for us ? Such a faith 
the apostle tells us, must produce love, for he says, 
Whom having not seen ye love, and in whom, 
though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye 
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 
The soul gladly receives him as a Saviour in all 
the characters and for all the purposes for which he 
is revealed ; and naturally desires to be conformed 

FAITH. 207 

to his will, and to make known the unsearchable 
riches of his grace to others. 

It is no less obvious that no one can believe the 
representations given in the Scriptures respecting 
the character of man and the ill-desert of sin, with 
a faith founded upon right apprehension of the holi- 
ness of God and the evil of his own heart, without 
experiencing self-condemnation, self-abhorrence, 
and a constant hungering and thirsting after right- 
eousness. Thus of all the truths in the word of 
God, it maybe said, that so far as they are believed 
in virtue of this spiritual apprehension, they will 
exert their appropriate influence upon the heart 
^nd consequently upon the life. That such a faith 
should not produce good fruits is as impossible as 
that the sun should give light without heat. This 
faith is the living head of all right affections and 
of all holy living; without it all religion is a dull 
formality, a slavish drudgery, or at best a rational- 
istic homage. Hence we are said, to live by faith, 
to walk by faith, to be sanctified by faith, to over- 
come by faith, to be saved by faith. And the grand 
characteristic of the people of God is, that they are 

208 FAITH. 

Section II. Faith as connected with justification. 

What has been said hitherto is designed to illus- 
trate the nature of saving faith, as it is represented 
in the Scriptures. It diners from all other acts 
of the mind to which the term faith is applied, 
mainly on account of the nature of the evidence on 
which it is founded. The Bible, however, is more 
definite in its instructions on this subject. Besides 
teaching us that there is a faith which receives as 
true all the declarations of God, in virtue of an 
evidence exhibited and applied by the Holy Spirit, 
it tells us what those particular acts of faith are, 
which secure our justification before God. It plainly 
teaches that we are justified by those acts of faith 
which have a special reference to Christ and his 
mediatorial work. Thus we are said to be justi- 
fied by faith in his blood.* The righteousness of 
God is said to be by faith of Jesus Christ ; that is, 
by faith of which he is the object. t This expres- 
sion occurs frequently ; Knowing, says the apostle, 
that a man is not justified by the works of the law, 
but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have be- 
lieved in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by 
the faith of Christ.:}: Not having my own righteous- 

* Rom. iii. 25. f Rom. iii 22. * Gal. ii. 16. 

FAITH. 209 

which is of the law, but that which is through the 
faith of Christ.* In all these places and in many- 
others of a similar kind, it is expressly stated that 
Christ is the object of justifying faith. The same 
doctrine is taught in those numerous passages, in 
which justification or salvation is connected with 
believing in Christ. Whosoever believeth in him 
shall not perish but have eternal life.t He that be- 
lieveth on the Son hath everlasting life.t Whoso- 
ever believeth on him shall receive remission of 
sins.§ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou 
shalt be saved. || The same truth is involved in all 
the representations of the method of justification 
given in the word of God. We are said to be 
justified by the death of Christ, by the blood of 
his cross, by the redemption that is in him, by the 
sacrifice of himself, by his bearing our sins, by his 
obedience, or righteousness. All these representa- 
tions imply that Christ in his mediatorial character, 
is the special object of justifying faith. It is indeed 
impossible that any man should believe the record 
which God lias given of his Son, without believing 
every other record which he has given, so far as it 
is known and apprehended ; still the special act of 
faith, which is connected with our justification, is 

Phil. iii. 9. f John iii. 16. * Ibid. 36. 

§ Acts x. 43. || Acts xvi. 31. 


210 FAITH. 

belief in Jesus Christ as the Saviour from sin. 
And when we are commanded to believe in Jesus 
Christ, the Scriptural meaning of the expression is 
that we should trust, or confide in him. Ii does not 
express mere assent to the proposition that Jesus is 
the Christ, which angels and devils exercise ; but 
it expresses trust which involves knowledge and 
assent. To believe in Christ as a propitiation for 
sin, is to receive and confide in him as such. 

From this representation it is clear what we must 
do to be saved. When the mind is perplexed and 
anxious from a sense of sin and the accusations of 
conscience ; when the troubled spirit looks round 
for some way of escape from the just displeasure 
of God, the voice of mercy from the lips of the 
Son of God is, come unto me, believe upon me, 
submit to be saved by me. Till this is done, 
nothing is done. And when this cordial act of faith 
in Christ is exercised, we are accepted for his 
sake, and he undertakes to save us from the do 
minion and condemnation of our sins. The expe- 
rience of the people of God, when they are made 
the recipients of that divine illumination which 
reveals to them the glory of God, their own un wor- 
thiness, and the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ, 
is no doubt very various. It is modified by their 
previous knowledge, by their peculiar state of mind, 
by the particular truth which happens to attract 

FAITH. '211 

their attention, by the clearness of the manifestation 
and by many other circumstances. This diversity 
is readily admitted, yet since no man can come 
unto the Father but by the Son; since without faith 
in him there is no forgiveness and no access to God, 
it must still be true that, with greater or less distinct- 
ness of apprehension, Christ and his mediatorial 
work constitute the object of the first gracious exer- 
cises of the renewed soul. Any approach to God, 
any hope of his favour, any peace of conscience or 
confidence of pardon, not founded upon him, must 
be delusive. Having, (that is, because we have) 
such an High Priest we come with boldness to the 
throne of grace ; and this is the only ground on 
which we can venture to draw near. The whole 
plan of redemption shows that there is no pardon, 
no access to God, no peace or reconciliation except 
through Jesus Christ. And this idea is so con- 
stantly presented in the Bible, that all genuine reli- 
gious experience must be in accordance with it. 

It is, however, of such vital importance for the 
sinner distinctly to understand what it is that is re- 
quired of him, that God has graciously so illus- 
trated the nature of saving faith that the most 
illiterate reader of the Scriptures may learn the way 
of life. It is not merely by the term faith, or 
believing, that this act of the soul is expressed, 
but by manv others of equivalent import. The 


consideration of a few of these will serve to explain 
more distinctly the plan of salvation, by showing 
at once the nature, object and office of justifying 

One of the most comprehensive and intelli- 
gible of these equivalent terms is that of receiving. 
To as many as received him, to them gave he 
power to become the sons of God.* As ye have 
therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk ye 
in him.t Believers are therefore described as those 
who receive the gift of righteousness ; | as those 
who gladly receive the word.§ To receive Jesus 
Christ is to accept and recognise him in the charac- 
ter in which he presents himself, as the Son of 
God, the Saviour of sinners, as a propitiation for 
our sins, as a ransom for our souls, as the Lord 
our righteousness. He came to his own and his 
own received him not. The Jews would not re- 
cognise him as the Messiah, the only mediator 
between God and man, as the end of the law for 
righteousness. They denied the Holy One, and put 
far from them the offer of life through him. Could 
the nature, the object, or office of faith be presented 
more clearly than they are by this representation ? 
Can the soul, anxious about salvation, doubt wha* 

• John i. 13. f Col. ii. 6. 

% Rom. v. 17. § Acts ii. 41. 

FAITH. 213 

it has to do ? Jesus Christ is presented to him in 
the gospel as the Son of God, clothed in our nature, 
sent by the Father to make reconciliation for ini- 
quity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to 
redeem us from the curse of the law by being made 
a curse for us. All that we have to do, is to receive 
him in this character; and those who thus receive 
him he makes the sons of God, that is, the objects 
of his favour, the subjects of his grace and the 
heirs of his kingdom. 

A still more simple illustration cf the nature of 
faith is contained in those passages in which we 
are commanded to look unto God. Look unto me 
and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth.* Our Sa- 
viour avails himself of this figure, when he says, As 
Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even 
so must the Son of xVIan be lifted up, that whosoever 
believeth on him should not perish but have eter- 
nal life.t The dying Israelite, who was commanded 
to turn his feeble eye on the brazen serpent, was 
surely at no loss to know the nature of the duty 
required of him. He knew there was no virtue in 
the act of looking. He might look in vain all 
round the wide horizon. He was healed, not for 
looking, but because the serpent was placed there 
by the command of God, and salvation made to 

* Is. xlv. 22. fJohn iii. 14, 15. 

214 FAITH. 

depend upon submitting to the appointed method of 
relief. Why then should the soul convinced of sin 
and misery be in doubt as to what it has to do ? 
Christ has been set forth as crucified ; and we are 
commanded to look to him and be saved. Can 
any thing be more simple ? Must not every at- 
tempt to render more intelligible the Saviour's 
beautiful illustration, serve only to darken counsel 
by words without wisdom ? 

Another striking illustration of this subject, may 
be found in Heb. vi. 18, where believers are de- 
scribed as those who have fled for refuge to lay 
hold of the hope set before them. As of old, the 
man-slayer, when pursued by the avenger of blood, 
(led to the city of refuge, whose gates were open 
night and day, and whose highways were always 
unincumbered ; so the soul, under the sense -of its 
guilt and convinced that it must perish if it remains 
where it is, flees to Jesus Christ, as the appointed 
refuge and finds peace and security in him. There 
the avenger cannot touch him ; there the law 
which before denounced vengeance, spreads its 
ample shield around him and gives him the assu- 
rance of safety. 

A still more common method of expressing the 
act of saving faith, is to be found in such passages 
as John vi. 35. He that cometh to me shall nevei 
hunger, and he that believeth on me shall nevei 

FAITH. 215 

thirst. All that the Father giveth to me shall come 
to me; and him that cometli to me I will in no 
wise east out. Here coming and believing are in- 
terchanged as expressing the same idea. So also 
in the following chapter, where our Saviour says, 
If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink. 
He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, 
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters. 
Hence the invitations and commands of the gospel are 
often expressed by this word. Come unto me all 
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest. And in the closing invitation of the sa- 
cred volume, The Spirit and the bride say, Come ; 
and let him that heareth, say, Come ; and let him 
that is athirst come , and whosoever will, let him 
take the water of life freely. 

Though this language is so plain that nothing but 
the illumination of the Spirit can render it plainer, 
yet the troubled soul perplexes itself with the 
inquiry, what is it to come to Christ? Though 
assured that he is not far from any one of us, we 
ace often forced to cry out, O that I knew where 
I might find him ! that I might come even to his 
seat. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there ; 
and backward, but I cannot perceive him ; on the 
left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold 
him ; he hideth himself on the right hand, that I 
cannot see him. It is often the very simplicity of 

216 FAITH. 

the requirement that deceives us. We think we 
must do some great thing, which shall bear a cer- 
tain proportion to the blessing connected with it. 
We cannot believe that it is merely looking, merely 
receiving, merely coming as the prodigal came to his 
father, or as the Israelite came to the high priest who 
was appointed to make atonement for the sins of the 
people. Yet is it even thus that we must come to 
the High Priest of our profession, with confession 
of sin, and submit to the application of his blood 
as the appointed means of pardon, and rejoice in 
the assurance of the divine favour. Or still more 
impressively, as the Hebrew believer came to the 
altar, laid his hand with confession upon the head 
of the victim, and saw it die in his stead, so does 
the trembling soul come to Christ as its propitiatory 
sacrifice, and confiding in the efficacy of his 
death, looks up to God and says, My Father I 
Coming to Christ, therefore, is the confiding re 
ception of him in the offices and for the purposes 
for which he is presented in the word of God, 
as our mediator and priest, as our advocate with 
the Father, as our Redeemer and Lord. 

Another term by which faith is expressed is 
submitting. This is not to be understood as mean- 
ing a submission to the will of God as a sovereign 
ruler, a giving up all our controversy with him and 
resigning ourselves into his hands. All this is 

FAITH. 217 

duty, but it is not saving faith. The submission 
required is submission to the revealed plan of 
salvation ; it is the giving up all excuses for our 
sins, all dependence upon our own righteousness, 
and submitting to the righteousness which God 
has provided for our justification. This is what 
the Jews refused to do, and perished in unbelief.* 
This is what we must do, in order to be saved. 
Men, when sensible of their guilt and danger, are 
perplexed and anxious about many things. But 
there is only one thing for them to do. They 
must submit to be saved as ungodly, as sinners, as 
entirely undeserving, solely for Christ's sake. 
They must consent to allow the robe of his right- 
eousness to be cast over all their nakedness and 
blood, that they may be found in him, not having 
their own righteousness, but the righteousness which 
is by faith in Jesus Christ. Then will they be pre- 
pared to join that great multitude which stand 
before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in 
white robes and palms in their hands, crying with 
a loud voice, Salvation to our God who sitteth upon 
the throne, and to the Lamb, for thou wast slain, 
and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood, out 
of every kindred, and people, and tongue, and 

* Rom. x. 3. and xi. 20. 


nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and 

It is thus that the Bible answers the question, 
What must we do to be saved ? We are told to be- 
lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ; and to set forth the 
nature, the object and office of this faith, the Scrip- 
tures employ the most significant terms and illus- 
trations, in order that we may learn to renounce 
ourselves and our works, and to be found in Christ 
depending solely upon what He has done and suf- 
fered as the ground of our acceptance with God. 
Those who thus believe, have passed from death 
unto life ; they are no longer under condemnation ; 
they have peace with God and rejoice in hope of 
his glory. As this faith unites them with Christ, 
it makes them not only partakers of his death, but 
of his life. The Holy Spirit, given without meas- 
ure to him, is through him given unto them, and 
works in them the fruits of holiness, which are unto 
the praise and glory of God. 



Clearly as the Scriptures teach that whosoever 
believes shall be saved, they teach no less clearly 
that except we repent we shall all perish. These 
graces are not only alike indispensable, but they 
cannot exist separately. Repentance is a turning 
from sin unto God, through Jesus Christ , and faith 
is the acceptance of Christ in order to our return to 
God. Repentance is the act of a believer; and 
faith is the act of a penitent. So that whoever be- 
lieves repents ; and whoever repents believes. 

The primary and simple meaning of the word 
commonly used in the New Testament to express 
the idea of repentance, is a change of mind, as the 
result of reflection. In this sense, it is said, There 
is no repentance with God. He is not a man that 
he should repent. In the same sense it is said, 
that Esau found no place for repentance, when he 
was unable to effect a change in the determination 
of his father. In the ordinary religious sense of the 



term, it is a turning from sin unto God. This is the 
account commonly given of it in the word of God. 
I thought upon my ways, said the Psalmist, and 
turned my feet unto thy testimonies.* When the 
wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, 
that he hath committed, and doeth that which is 
lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. t Let 
the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous 
man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, 
and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, 
for he will abundantly pardon.:}: And Solomon, 
in his prayer at the dedication of the temple, said, 
If the people shall bethink themselves in the land 
whither they were carried away captives, and shall 
repent and make supplication unto thee, saying, 
We have sinned and done perversely, we have 
committed wickedness, and so return unto thee with 
all their heart and with ail their soul; then hear 
their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy 
dwelling place, and maintain their cause. § To 
repent, then, is to turn from sin unto God. But as 
there is a repentance which has no connexion 
with salvation, it becomes us to search the Scriptures 
that we may learn the characteristics of that repent- 
ance which is unto life. 

* P*. cxix. 59. f Ezck. xviii. 27. 

\ Is. lv. 7. § 1 King*, viii. 47, 49. 

(LEPENTANCfi. 23i 

As conviction of sin is an essential part of re- 
pentance and as that point has already been con- 
sidered, it will not be necessary to dwell long upon 
this general subject. The prominence, however, 
given to it in the Scriptures, and the large spare 
which it occupies in the experience of Christians, 
demand that the nature of this turning from sin, 
which is so often enjoined, should be carefully 

There is one general truth in relation to this 
point which is clearly taught in the Bible; and 
that is, that all true repentance springs from right 
views of God. The language of Job may with 
more or less confidence be adopted by every Chris- 
tian : I have heard of thee by the hearing of the 
ear, but now mine eye seeth thee ; wherefore I 
abhor myself in dust and ashes. * 

The discovery of the justice of God serves to 
awaken conscience, and often produces a fearful 
looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. 
This is the natural and reasonable effect of a clear 
apprehension of the rectitude of the divine charac- 
ter, as of a judge who renders to every one his 
due. There are accordingly many illustrations of 
the effects of this apprehension recorded in the 
Scriptures. Fearfulness and trembling, said the 

* Job xlii. 5, G. 


Psalmist, are fallen upon me ; and horror hath 
overwhelmed me.* While I suffer thy terrors I 
am distracted. Thy fierce wrath goeth over me. 
Thy terrors have cut me ofF.t There is no rest in 
my bones because of my sins. For my iniquities 
have gone over my head, as a heavy burden they 
are too heavy for me.t These fearful forebodings 
are so common in the experience of the people of 
God, that the earlier writers make terror of con- 
science a prominent part of repentance. There 
are, however, two remarks upon this subject, 
which should be borne in mind. The first is, 
that these exercises vary in degree from the intole- 
rable anguish of despair, to the calm conviction of 
the judgment that we are justly exposed to the 
displeasure of God. And secondly, that there is 
nothing discriminating in these terrors of con- 
science. They are experienced by the righteous 
and the unrighteous. If they occurred in the re- 
pentance of David, they did also in that of Judas. 
Sinners in Zion are often afraid ; and fearfulness 
often surprises the hypocrite. These fearful appre- 
hensions, therefore, are not to be desired for their 
own sake ; since there is nothing good in fear. It 
is reasonable that those should fear who refuse to 

Ps. Iv. 5. f Ibid. Ixxxviii. 15, 10. 

t Ibid, xxxviii. 3. 


repent and to accept of the offers of mercy. But 
there is nothing reasonable in those fears which 
arise from unbelief, or distrust of the promises of 
God. It so often happens, however, in the expe- 
rience of the people of God, that they are made 
sensible of their guilt and danger, before they have 
any clear apprehensions of the plan of redemp- 
tion, that, in fact, fear of the wrath of God enters 
largely into the feelings which characterise their 
conversion. The apprehension of the holiness of 
God produces awe. The angels in heaven arc 
represented as veiling their faces, and bowing with 
reverence before the Holy One. Something of the 
same feeling must be excited in the minds of men 
by the discovery of His infinite purity. It cannot 
fail, no matter what may be the state of his mind, 
to excite awe. This, however, may be mingled 
with love, and express itself in adoration ; or it 
may co-exist with hatred, and express itself in 
blasphemy. Very often the effect is simply awe ; 
(or at least this is the prominent emotion,) and the 
soul is led to prostrate itself in the dust. The moral 
character of this emotion can only be determined 
by observing whether it is attended with compla- 
cency in the contemplation of infinite purity, and 
with a desire of larger and more constant discov- 
eries of it ; or whethe-r it produces uneasiness and 


a desire that the vision may be withdrawn and we 
be allowed to remain at ease in our darkness. 

In the next place, this discovery of the holiness 
of God cannot fail to produce a sense of our own 
unworthiness. It is in his light that we see light. 
It is by the apprehension of his excellence that we 
learn our own vileness. And as no man can be 
aware that he appears vile in the sight of others, 
without a sense of shame, we find that this emotion 
is described as being one of the most uniform at- 
tendants upon repentance. Thus Ezra, in his 
penitential prayer, says, O my God ! I am ashamed 
and blush to lift up my face to thee my God ; for 
our iniquities are increased over our head, and our 
trespass is grown up unto the heavens.* Daniel 
expresses the same feeling when he says, O Lord, 
righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us con- 
fusion of face, as at this day.t And God when 
describing the restoration of his people, even when 
assuring them of pardon, says, Thou shalt know 
that I am the Lord, that thou mayestbe confounded 
and never open thy mouth any more because of thy 
shame, when I am pacified towards thee, for ail 
that thou hast done, saith the Lord God.."}: 

As the consciousness of unworthiness when we 

* Ezra ix. 6. f Dan. ix. 7. $ Ezek. xvi 63. 


think of others, produces shame, so, when we 
think of ourselves, it produces self-ahhorrence. 
This latter feeling - , therefore, also enters into the 
nature of true repentance. In the strong language 
of the suffering patriarch already quoted, the sinner 
abhors himself and repents in dust and ashes. In 
another passage the same distinguished servant of 
God says, Behold I am vile; what shall I answer 
thee ? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.* And 
the prophet describing the repentance of the people 
says, Ye shall remember your ways and all your 
doings, wherein ye have been defiled ; and ye shall 
loathe yourselves in your own sight, for all the evil 
that ye have committed.! It is not the strength, 
but the nature of these feelings, which determines 
the character of our repentance. Their nature is 
the same in all true penitents ; their strength. varies 
in every particular case. In all, however, the sense 
of sin destroys that self-complacency with which 
sinners soothe themselves, thanking God they are 
not as other men. It humbles them before God, and 
places them in the position which he would have 
them occupy. To this man will I look, saith the 
Lord, even to him that is poor and of a contrite 
spirit and trembleth at my word 4 With such a 
soul God condescends to take up his abode. For 

* Job xl. 4. f Ezek. xx. 43. t Is. Ixvi. 2. 


thus sailh the High and Lofty One who inhabit- 
eth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the 
high and holy place, with him also who is of a 
contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of 
the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite 

This humbling sense of our unworthiness, which 
produces true contrition and self-abasement, is es- 
sential to repentance. Most men are willing to 
acknowledge themselves to be sinners ; but they 
are at the same time disposed to extenuate their 
guilt ; to think they are as good as could be rea- 
sonably expected; that the law of Cod demands 
too much of beings so frail as man, and that, it 
would be unjust to visit their deficiencies with 
any severe punishment. The change which con- 
stitutes repentance destroys this disposition to self- 
justification. The soul bows down before God 
under the consciousness of inexcusable guilt. It 
stands self-condemned, and, instead of regarding God 
as a hard master, it acknowledges that he is righteous 
in all his demands, and in all his judgments. Such 
were the feelings of David, when he said, I ac- 
knowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever 
before me. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, 
and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mightcstbe 

* U. ivii. 15. 


justified when thou speakest, and clear when thou 
judges t.* The same feeling is expressed by Ezra, 
O Lord God of Israel thou art righteous .... be- 
hold we are before thee in our trespasses, for we 
cannot stand before thee because of this.t And 
Nehemiah uses language to the same effect; Thou 
art just in all that is brought upon us ; for thou 
hast done right, but we have done wickedly.! 
There can, therefore, be no true repentance without 
this contrite spirit of self-condemnation and abase- 

The confession of sin, on which the Scriptures 
lay so much stress, is the outward expression of 
this inward sense of ill-desert. It is not enough 
that we should secretly condemn ourselves. God 
requires a full and ingenuous confession of our 
sins. And this our own hearts will prompt us to 
make. As there is no desire in the penitent to ex- 
tenuate his guilt, so there is no disposition to con- 
ceal it. On the contrary, the soul is anxious to 
acknowledge every thing ; to take shame to itself, 
and to justify God. We accordingly find that a 
large part of the penitential portions of the Scrip- 
tures is taken up in recording the confessions of 
the people of God. When I kept silence, said the 
Psalmist, my bones waxed old through my roaring 

* Pd. li.4. fEzraiy. 15. t Neh. ix. 33. 


all the clay long. For day and night thy hand was 
heavy upon me ; my moisture was turned into the 
drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto 
thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said I 
will confess my transgressions unto the Lord ; and 
thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.* So long as 
he attempted to conceal his guilt, he found no re- 
lief; the hand of God continued to press heavily 
upon him ; but when he acknowledged his trans- 
gressions he obtained forgiveness. The wise man 
therefore says, He that covereth his sins shall not 
prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, 
shall find mercy .t The New Testament is equally 
explicit as to this part of our duty. If we say that 
we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth 
is not in us. If we confess our sins, lie is faithful 
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us 
from all unrighteousness. t 

This confession must be made to the person 
against whom we have sinned. If we have sinned 
against our fellow men, we must confess to them. 
If we have sinned against the church, we must 
confess to the church ; and if we have sinned 
against God, our confession must be made to God. 
The Old Testament, in commanding restitution in 
case of injury done to our neighbour, thereby com- 

• Pi. xxxii. 3. f Prov. xxviii. 13. t 1 John i. 8, 9, 


manded acknowledgement to be made to the in- 
jured party. And in the New Testament we are 
required to confess our faults one to another.* As, 
however, the great majority of our sins are com- 
mitted against God, it is to him that our confessions 
are to be principally made. And even in those 
cases in which we sin against men, we, in a still 
higher sense, sin against God. Our sense of guilt in 
his sight, therefore, will prevail over the sense of 
our injustice to those whom we have offended. 
Thus David, though he had, in the most grievous 
manner, sinned against his neighbour, was so af- 
fected with the enormity of his sin as committed 
against God, that he said, Against thee, thee only 
have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.! In 
the inspired records of penitential sorrow, we ac- 
cordingly find that confession is constantly made to 
God. Let thine ear now, said Nehemiah, be atten- 
tive and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the 
prayer of thy servant which I pray before thee, 
now day and night, for the children of Israel thy 
servants, and confess the sins of the children of 
Israel which we have sinned against thee ; both I 
and my father's house have sinned, and have dealt 
very corruptly against thee, have not kept the com- 
mandments or the statutes, nor the judgments which 

* James v. 16. f Ps. li. 4. 



thou commandcst thy servant Moses. Indeed the 
greater portion of the remarkable prayers of Daniel, 
Ezra, and Nehemiah, which form the most authen- 
tic record of the exercises of genuine repentance, 
is taken up with confessions of sin ; which shows 
how essential such confession is to the proper dis- 
charge of this duty. No man, therefore, whose 
heart does not lead him freely, fully and humbly 
to acknowledge his sin before God, can have any 
satisfactory evidence that he truly repents. 

There is indeed a confession which remorse ex- 
torts from the lips of those whose hearts know 
nothing of that godly sorrow which is unto life. 
Thus Judas went to his accomplices in treachery 
and said, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the 
innocent blood ; and then went and hanged himself. 
This, however, is very different from that ingenu- 
ous acknowledgment of sin which flows from a 
broken spirit, and which is the more full and free, 
the stronger the assurance of forgiveness. 

Though the Scriptures plainly teach that in all 
true repentance there is a sense of sin, self-loath- 
ing, self-condemnation, sorrow and confession, yet 
such is the poverty of human language, that these 
very terms may be, nay, must be, employed to 
express the exercises of those who do not truly re- 
pent. It is said of Judas that he repented ; and we 
cannot doubt that his repentance included a convic- 


tion of guilt, sorrow, self-abhorrence and confes- 
sion. Yet all this was nothing more than the ope- 
ration of that impenitent remorse which often drives 
men to despair, and which serves to feed the fire 
that never shall be quenched. Although we are 
forced to describe the exercises which attend the 
sorrow of the world, and those which accompany 
the sorrow which is of God, by the same terms, 
they are nevertheless essentially different in their 
nature. There is a gleam of hope and a glow of 
love pervading the exercises of the true penitent, 
which impart to all his exercises a peculiarity of 
character, and cause them to produce effects spe- 
cifically different from those which flow from 
despairing remorse, or the agitations of an awakened 
conscience. His views of the justice and holiness 
of God produce, not only a conviction of sin and 
sorrow for having committed it; but also an earnest 
desire to be delivered from it as the greatest of all 
evils, and an anxious longing after conformity to 
the image of God, as the greatest of all blessings. 
The repentance of the ungodly consists in the ope- 
rations of conscience combined with fear ; the 
repentance of the godly, of the operations of con- 
science combined with love. The one is the sor- 
row of the malefactor; the other the sorrow of a 
child. The one tends to despair and opposition to 
God ; the other to hope and a desire after his favour. 


Both may lead to obedience ; but the obedience in 
the one case is slavish ; in the other, filial. In the 
one case it is mere penance ; in the other it is re- 

The circumstance which, perhaps, most per- 
ceptibly distinguishes true repentance from mere 
conviction and remorse, is, that the former flows 
from the apprehension of the mercy of God. There 
is no hope in the repentance of the ungodly. They 
may see by the light of conscience and of the divine 
law, that their sins are exceedingly great. They 
may be filled with terror from the apprehension of 
divine justice, and even humbled and confounded 
under a view of the infinite holiness of God and of 
their own vileness, but there is no sense of forgiv- 
ing mercy, no apprehension of the divine favour. 
Instead, therefore, of turning towards God, they 
turn from him. After the example of Adam, they 
would gladly hide themselves from his presence. 
And so terrible, at times, is that presence, that they 
madly seek a refuge from it in the darkness of the 
grave, or call upon the rocks and the mountains to 
cover them. This is the sorrow which worketh 
death. But in every case of real turning unto God, 
there is more or less distinct apprehension of his 
mercy. This may be so feeble as only to enable 
the soul to say, Though he slay me, yet I will trust 
in him ; or, Who knoweth if he will return and re- 


pent and leave a blessing behind him I * or, to adopt 
the language of David, If I shall find favour in the 
eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again. But if 
he thus say, I have no pleasure in him ; behold 
here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto 
him.t This, however, is sufficient to turn fear into 
hope, and rebellion into submission. 

It may be that the hope which saves the soul 
from sinking into despair and which prevents it 
from turning from God in aggravated opposition, 
is at times, nothing more than a conviction that he 
is merciful, without any distinct apprehension of 
the way in which his mercy can be exercised, or 
any confident persuasion of our own acceptance.. 
Still the soul believes that he is the Lord, the Lord 
God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and 
abundant in goodness and truth.:}: It has courage 
to adopt the language of the Psalmist : Thou God 
art good and ready to forgive ; and plenteous in 
mercy to all those that call upon thee.§ In all the 
records of penitence, therefore, contained in the 
Scriptures, we find the recognition of the divine 
goodness as 'the great operative principle in turning 
the soul unto God. Thus Nehemiah says, Thou 
art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, 

* Joel ii. 14. f 2 Sum. xv. 25, 26. 

i Ex. xxxiv. G. § Ps. lxxxvi. 5. 



slow to anger, and of great kindness.* And the 
prophet presents this consideration as the great 
motive to those whom he calls to repentance ; Rend 
your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto 
the Lord your God ; for he is gracious and repent- 
eth him of evil.t 

But inasmuch as there can be no confidence of 
forgiving mercy, which is not founded on the reve- 
lation of the purpose of God ; and as there is no 
revelation of a purpose to pardon except through 
the mediation of Jesus Christ, so however indis- 
tinct may be, at times, the view which the soul takes 
of the plan of salvation, there must still be a refer- 
ence to the Saviour in all authorized expectations 
of mercy. The penitent may not know how God can 
be just and yet the justifier of sinners, and yet be 
persuaded not only that he is merciful, but that he has 
found a ransom and can consistently save us from 
going down into the pit. Doubtless, however, 
under the light of the gospel, it is far more com- 
mon that the soul sees all that it discovers of the 
mercy of God and of the possibility of pardon in 
the face of Jesus Christ. It is in him that God 
has revealed himself as reconciled unto the world, 
not imputing unto men their trespasses. It is be- 
cause he was made sin for us, that we can be made 

* Nch. ix. 17. 


the righteousness of God in him. All evangelical 
hope rests on the assurance that though we have 
sinned we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus 
Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our 
sins. This is the hope which is effectual in 
winning the soul back to God. It is the discovery 
of the love of God in giving his own Son that 
whosoever believes on him, should not perish but 
have eternal life. It is this that breaks the hard 
heart, revealing to it the exceeding turpitude of its 
sins, and at the same time disclosing the readiness 
of God freely to forgive those who come to him 
through Christ. It is therefore not so much the 
threatenings of the law, as the apprehension of the 
love of God, which turns the sinner from his re- 
bellion, and draws him back to submission and obe- 
dience. All repentance without this is legal and 
slavish. It is such as that of Pharaoh, or Judas, or 
of the thousands whom an awakened conscience 
and fear of wrath drive from their former sins, and 
force to walk in clanking chains along a mistaken 
road in search of heaven. This is the only repent- 
ance which conscience and the apprehension of di- 
vine justice can produce. A soul cannot approach 
an unreconciled God, any more than it can embrace 
a consuming fire. A sense of the favour of God, 
or a hope in his mercy, is essential to our return- 
ing to him with confidence and love. 


There is indeed a belief in the mercy of God 
which, instead of leading men to repentance, en- 
courages them to continue in sin. This is a belief 
which arises out of ignorance. It is founded on a 
misapprehension of the character of God. It is 
easy for those who know nothing of the divine ho- 
liness and justice and who look upon sin as a mis- 
fortune or a trifle, to believe that God will not be 
severe to mark iniquity. To such persons the 
mercy of God seems a matter of course ; restrict- 
ing its offers to no class of men, but covering with 
its mantle the sins of the penitent and of the rep- 
robate. As they see no reason why God should 
not forgive, they easily hope in his mercy. But 
when their eyes are opened to his immaculate 
purity which forbids his looking on sin with allow- 
ance ; to his justice which forbids him to spare the 
guilty ; to the strictness of his law and to the fear- 
fulness of its penalty ; when conscience is aroused 
and adds its sanction to the judgment of God, in a 
voice whose authority and power can neither be 
questioned nor evaded, then these hopes of mercy are 
seen to be as the spider's web. They are swept away 
in a moment, and the difficulty now is, to believe 
that pardon, once thought so certain, is even possi- 
ble. Hence the assurances that God is plenteous 
in mercy and ready to forgive are so numerous and 
earnest in the Scriptures. Hence the way in which 


mercy can be exercised, consistently with those 
attributes which are seen to enter into the essential 
excellence of God, is so clearly set forth. Hence 
the invitations, the promises, yea, even the oath of 
God, are given to beget hope in the mind of the 
convinced and humbled sinner. It is not the whole, 
but the sick, who need the physician ; and it is not 
for the careless, who feel no need of pardon, but 
for the anxious, who fear that there is scarcely 
room for mercy, that these assurances are given. 

It is not, therefore, that hope of mercy which 
springs from ignorance and indifference, which is 
operative in the work of repentance, but that which 
is founded upon the promises of God embraced by 
faith. It is an enlightened hope. The soul in 
entertaining it, knows something of the difficulties 
in the way of pardon, and something of the method 
in which mercy can be consistently exercised. 
Such a hope is not a matter of course ; nor is it an 
easy attainment. The sense of sin, the testimony 
of conscience, the holiness of God, the honour of 
his law, are all apparently opposed to any reason- 
able expectation of forgiveness. And, therefore, 
although the declarations of Scripture are so explicit 
on the subject, it often happens that the awaken- 
ed sinner feels that though these declarations may 
be true in reference to others, they cannot be true 
as it regards himself. And when the goodness of 


God is revealed to him ; when lie sees the divine 
love surmounting all difficulties, no shipwrecked 
mariner surrounded by darkness and tossed by tem- 
pests, hails with greater joy the break of day than 
does such a soul the revelation of divine mercy. 
It is not joy merely; it is wonder, gratitude and 
love that take possession of his soul and fill him 
with the purpose of living devoted to God his 
Redeemer. It is this hope which gives new life to 
the soul, and accomplishes its return from the 
service of sin to the service of God. 

Hope in the mercy of God being thus important, 
it is the great design of the Bible to reveal the love 
of God to sinners, in order to bring them back from 
their apostasy. The sacred volume is full of in- 
struction on this important subject. Every com- 
mand to repent, implies a readiness on the part of 
God to forgive. Every institution of divine wor- 
ship implies that God is willing to receive those 
who return to him. Every instance of pardon 
mentioned in the Bible is left on record to show 
that there is forgiveness with God that he may be 
feared. With the same view he has given those 
declarations of his mercy, long-suffering and love, 
with which the Scriptures abound. And above all, 
for this purpose has he set forth his Son as a pro- 
pitiation for our sins, that we may see not only that 
he is merciful, but how he can be merciful and yet 


just. These offers of mercy are made to all who 
hear the gospel, even to those whose sins are as 
scarlet, or red like crimson ; and none lose the 
benefit of them who do not voluntarily and wickedly 
reject them ; either carelessly supposing that they 
need no forgiveness, or unbelievingly refusing to 
accept of pardon on the only terms on which it can 
be granted. 

That repentance, therefore, which is unto life, is 
a turning ; not a being driven away from sin by 
fear and stress of conscience, but a forsaking it as 
evil and hateful, with sincere sorrow, humility and 
confession ; and a returning unto God, because he 
is good and willing to forgive, with a determination 
to live in obedience to his commandments. 

There are but two ways in which we can judge 
of the genuineness of this change. The one is 
the comparison of our inward experience with the 
word of God ; the other the observation of its 
effects. As every man is conscious of his own 
feelings, attention and comparison will generally 
enable him to ascertain their character. He may 
tell whether he has had such views of the justice 
and holiness of God as to produce a conviction of 
his own sinfulness and ill-desert; whether he has 
been forced to give up his self-complacency and to 
feel that disapprobation of his character and con- 
duct, which leads the soul to confess with shame 


and sorrow its guilt and pollution in the sight of 
God. He may tell whether he has had such appre- 
hensions of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ as to 
induce him to return to his heavenly Father, with a 
strong desire after his favour, and with a firm deter- 
mination to live to his glory. These are the exer- 
cises which constitute repentance, and he who is 
conscious of them may know that he is turned from 
death unto life. 

As, however, true self-knowledge is the most 
difficult of all attainments ; and as the feelings, un- 
less unusually strong, are hard to be detected in 
their true nature, the surest test of the character of 
any supposed change of heart is to be found in its 
permanent effects. By their fruits ye shall know 
them, is a declaration as applicable to the right 
method of judging of ourselves as of others. What- 
ever, therefore, may have been our inward expe- 
rience ; whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, 
unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, 
our experience will profit us nothing. Our re- 
pentance needs to be repented of, unless it leads us 
to confession and restitution in cases of private 
injury ; unless it causes us to forsake not merely 
outward sins, which attract the notice of others, 
but those which lie concealed in the heart ; unless 
.\t makes us choose the service of God, as that 
which is right and congenial, and causes U9 to 


live not for ourselves but for him who loved us and 
gave himself for us. 

There is no duty the necessity of which is either 
more obvious in itself, or more frequently asserted 
in the word of God, than that of repentance. Na- 
ture itself teaches us that when we have done 
wrong, we should be sorry for it, and turn away 
from the evil. Every man feels that this is a rea- 
sonable expectation in regard to those who have 
offended him. Every parent especially looks with 
anxiety for the repentance of a disobedient child ; 
and he considers nothing worthy of the name, but 
sincere sorrow and a return to affectionate obedience. 
No man need wonder, therefore, that God who re- 
quires nothing but what is right and who can 
require nothing less, commands all men every 
where to repent. The salvation offered in the 
gospel, though it be a salvation of sinners, is also 
a salvation from sin. The heaven which it promises 
is a heaven of holiness. The rivers of pleasure 
which flow from the right hand of God, are filled 
with the pure waters of life. No man, therefore, 
can be saved, who does not, by repentance, forsake 
his sins. This is itself a great part of salvation. 
The inward change of heart from the love and ser- 
vice of sin, to the love and service of God, is the 
great end of the death of Christ, who gave himself 
for his church, that he raighj sanctify and cleanse it 


with the washing of water, by the word, that he 
might present it to himself a glorious church, not 
having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing ; but 
that it should be holy and without blemish. A sal- 
vation for sinners, therefore, without repentance, is 
a contradiction. 

Hence it is that repentance is the burden of evan- 
gelical preaching. Our Saviour himself when he 
began to preach, said, Repent, for the kingdom of 
God is at hand.* And when he came into Galilee 
preaching the gospel, he said, The time is fulfilled, 
and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and 
believe the gospel. t The commission which he 
gave his apostles was, That repentance and remis- 
sion of sins should be preached in his name 
among all nations.! In the execution of this com- 
mission his disciples went forth and preached, Re- 
pent ye and be converted, that your sins may be 
blotted out, when the times of refreshing come 
from the presence of the Lord.§ Paul, in the ac- 
count which he gave Agrippa of his preaching, 
said that he showed first unto them in Damascus, 
and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of 
Judea, and then unto the Gentiles, that they should 
repent and turn unto God, and do works meet for And he called upon the elders at 

* Matt. iv. 17. f Mark i. 15. * Luke xxiv. 47. 

§ Acts iii. 19. || Acts xxvi. 20. 


Ephesus to bear witness that he had taught publicly 
and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews 
and to the Greeks, repentance towards God and 
faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.* 

Repentance then is the great, immediate and 
pressing duty of all who hear the gospel. They 
are called upon to forsake their sins and to return 
unto God through Jesus Christ. The neglect of 
this duty, is the rejection of salvation. For, as 
we have seen, unless we repent we must perish. 
It is because repentance is thus indispensably ne- 
cessary, that God reveals so clearly not only the 
evil of sin, and the terrors of his law, but his infinite 
compassion and love ; that he calls upon us to 
turn unto him and live, assuring us that he is the 
Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, long- 
suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. 
This call to repentance commonly follows men from 
the cradle to the grave. It is one of the first sounds 
which wakes the infant's ear ; it is one of the last 
which falls on the failing senses of the dying sin- 
ner. Every thing in this world is vocal with the 
voice of mercy. All joy and all sorrow are calls 
to return unto God with whom are the issues of 
life. Every opening grave, every church, every 
page of the Bible, is an admonition or an invitation. 

* Acts xx. 21. 


Every serious thought or anxious foreboding is the 
voice of Cod, saying, Turn ye, for why will ye 
die ? It is through all these admonitions that men 
force their way to death. They perish, because 
they deliberately reject salvation. 

It is one of the mysteries of redemption, that 
under the economy of mercy, all duties are graces. 
Though repentance is our duty, it is not less the 
gift of God. Those who wrest the Scriptures to 
their own destruction, gladly seize on such truths 
either as an excuse for delay, under pretence of 
waiting God's time, or as a palliation of the guilt 
of a hard and impenitent heart. But those wlio 
feel the greatness of the work required of them, 
rejoice in the truth, and rouse themselves with new 
energy to their duty, no longer a hopeless task, ami 
with all earnestness work out their own salvation, 
because it is God that workeih in them to will and 
to do, according to his own pleasure. 



Section I. The nature and necessity of a public profes- 
sion of religion. 

Religion consists in a great measure in the 
secret intercourse of the soul with God ; in those 
acts of adoration, gratitude, confidence and submis- 
sion which the eye of man cannot see, and with 
which the stranger cannot intermeddle. These 
secret exercises by controlling the external conduct, 
and by supplying the motives for the humble de- 
meanor and benevolent actions of the Christian, 
cannot indeed fail to manifest their existence ; but 
all unnecessary parading them upon the notice of 
others borders on the offence which our Saviour 
condemned in the ancient Pharisees. Agreeably 
to his directions, our alms are to be given in secret ; 
when we pray we should pray in secret, and when 
we fast, we should not appear unto men to fast, but 
unto* our Father, who seeth in secret. In these 
21* 245 


words Christ does more than condemn hypocrisy ; 
he not only forbids * the performance of religious 
duties with the design of being seen of men, but he 
teaches that true religion is unobtrusive and retiring. 
It avoids the glare of day. It is holy, solemn, 
secret, rejoicing in being unobserved. It is directly 
opposed to the ostentatious display of religious 
feelings in which those delight, who seem to make 
religion consist in talking about it. 

Although religion is thus retiring in its character, 
and although it consists in a great measure in the 
secret intercourse of the soul with God, it never- 
theless has its social and public relations, which 
render it impossible that a true Christian should 
desire to keep the fact of his being a Christian a 
secret from the world. This is indeed often attempted, 
for a time, by those whose faith is weak, and who 
dread the reproach with which a profession of 
religion is, under many circumstances, attended. 
The temptation to such concealment cannot well be 
appreciated by those who have always lived in the 
bosom of a religious society, where the profession 
of religious sentiments is a passport to confidence 
and respect. Such persons little know the trial to 
which those of their brethren are exposed whose 
parents or associates view all experimental religion 
with hatred or contempt, and who visit every 
manifestation of pious feeling with the chastisement 


of cruel mockings. To a greater or less degree, a 
large portion of the people of God, arc called upon 
to endure this trial ; and they are often tempted to 
ask whether they cannot be religious without letting 
it be known. If religion is a secret thing, why 
may it not be kept a secret ? To this question the 
answer is simple and decisive. The confession 
of Christ before men is declared in Scripture to 
be essential to salvation. Whosoever, said cur 
Saviour, confesseth me before men, him will I 
confess before my father which is in heaven ; but 
whosoever denieth me before men, him will I 
also deny before my Father which is in heaven.* 
Again, whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of 
my words in this adulterous generation ; of him 
also shall the Son of -Man be ashamed, when he 
cometh in the glory of his Father and with the holy 
angels.t Paul also in writing to Timothy says, 
Be not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor 
of me his prisoner, but be thou partaker of the 
afflictions of the gospel according to the power of 
God.+ If we suffer, we shall also reign with him ; 
if we deny him, he also will deny us.§ And still 
more explicitly, when teaching the condition of 
salvation, he says, If thou shalt confess with thv 

* Mark x. 32. f Mark viii. 38. * 2 Tim. i. 8. 

§ 2 Tim. ii. 12. 


mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thy 
heart that God hath raised him from the dead, 
thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man 
believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth 
confession is made unto salvation.* The same 
truth is taught in all those passages which assert 
the necessity of baptism, because baptism involves 
a public profession of the gospel. Thus our Sa- 
viour in his commission to the apostles said, He 
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. t And 
on the day of Pentecost, when the people were 
convinced of the sin of having rejected Christ, and 
asked what they should do, Peter answered, Repsnt 
and be baptized every one of you, in the name of 
the Lord Jesus. £ It was not enough that they 
should retire to their houses and repent before 
God ; they must publicly acknowledge Christ and 
their allegiance to him. There is, therefore, no 
condition of discipleship more clearly laid down 
than this. If we do not confess Christ, he will 
not confess us. If we do not acknowledge him as 
our Saviour, he will not acknowledge us as his 
disciples. If we are not willing to share with him 
in the reproach and contradiction of sinners, we 
cannot share in the glory which he has received 
from the Father. 

• Rom. x. 9, 10. f Mark xvi. 16. | Acts iL 38. 


The relation in which we stand to Christ as our 
king renders a public acknowledgment of his autho- 
rity necessary. In the kingdoms of this world, no 
one is admitted to the privileges of citizenship 
without a profession of allegiance. And in the 
kingdom of Christ those who do not acknowledge 
his authority, reject him. By refusing to confess 
him as Lord they declare that they are not his 

The church is also often compared in Scripture 
to a family. Can a child live in his father's house 
without acknowledging his parent? May he re- 
ceive the blessings of a mother's love, and not ac- 
knowledge her to be his mother ? May he pass 
her in the street without recognition, and then steal, 
under cover of the night, to he fed at her table and to 
be protected by her care ? As every one feels that 
no child, with proper filial feelings, could hesitate to 
acknowledge his parents, so we may be assured 
that we are not the children of God, if w r e are 
afraid or ashamed to acknowledge him as our 
Father, and our obligations to honour and obey him. 

It is still further to be considered that Christians 
are the worshippers of Christ. The apostle salutes 
• the Corinthians as those who call upon the name of 
the Lord Jesus ; and from the beginning, in Jeru- 
salem and at Damascus, Christians were designated 


as those who called on the name of Christ.* But 
what kind of a worshipper is he who is ashamed or 
afraid to acknowledge his God ? All the relations, 
therefore, in which a Christian stands to Christ, as 
his king, as the head of the family of God and as 
the object of divine worship, involve the necessity 
of confessing him before men ; and we practically 
reject him in all these relations by neglecting or 
refusing this public profession of him and his 

A moment's consideration of the nature of the 
religion of Jesus Christ must convince us of the 
impossibility of being a secret Christian. Not 
the heart only, but the whole external deport- 
ment must be regulated by that religion. It for- 
bids many things which the world allows ; it en- 
joins many things which the world forbids. Obe- 
dience to its precepts of necessity includes a public 
profession ; because such obedience draws a line of 
distinction between its disciples and the people of the 
world. This is one of the reasons why the people 
of God are called saints. They are distinguished, 
separated from others and consecrated to God. 
When they cease to be thus distinguished from those 
around them, they cease to be saints. If their in- 

* Acts it, 14, ftl. 


ward temper and outward conduct do not mark 
them out as a peculiar people, they are not Chris- 
tians. A city set on an hill cannot be hid. It cannot 
he that those who deny themselves and take up their 
cross and daily follow Christ; whose affections are 
set upon things above ; who walk by faith and not 
by sight ; who live unto God and keep themselves 
unspotted from the world, should not visibly differ 
from those whose spirit, principles and objects are 
:dl worldly. Nor is it possible that this difference 
should exist, without an avowal, on the part of the 
Christian, of the cause of it. He must appeal to 
the authority of Christ as the justification of his 
conduct, and, therefore, cannot live as a Christian 
without confessing Christ. 

Besides the general temper and deportment re- 
quired by the gospel, there are many specific duties 
enjoined by Christ which imply a public profession 
of his religion. The organization of his church 
as a visible society, supposes the separation of a 
people recognising his authority, and professing to 
act in obedience to his laws. The commission 
which he gave to his disciples was, that they should 
go into all the world, preaching his gospel, making 
disciples, baptizing them in his name, gathering 
them into distinct societies and appointing officers 
over them for conducting public worship and for 
the exercise of discipline All this supposes that his 


followers should constitute a body publicly ac- 
knowledging him as their head, and confessing him 
as their Lord and Saviour before the world. How 
can a man keep the fact of his being a Christian a 
secret, when Christianity is, by its author, made to 
assume this visible, organized form ? It is specially 
enjoined upon every believer to associate himself 
with the church, to assemble with his fellow Chris- 
tians for public worship, and to unite with them in 
celebrating the Saviour's death ? If a Christian is 
one who obeys Christ, and if obedience includes 
those external acts which involve this public ac- 
knowledgment of him, then no man can be a Chris- 
tian who does not make this acknowledgment. 

There are few duties (and those founded on posi- 
tive precepts) commanded in the word of God, 
which right feelings do not, of themselves, urge us 
to discharge. If we are required to forsake sin, 
to serve God, to love the brethren, to live for others 
rather than ourselves, to be instant in prayer, to 
join in the public and social worship of God ; 
these are things in which the renewed heart in- 
stinctively delights. The external command guides 
and sanctions the performance ; but the motive to 
obedience is not mere regard to authority. In like 
manner, while the public confession of Christ is 
enjoined in Scripture as a necessary duty, it is, at 
the same time, the spontaneous tribute of every 


Christian heart. If no subject requires to be urged 
to acknowledge a sovereign whom he loves ; if no 
child needs to be commanded to confess a parent 
whom he reveres, much less does the believer 
need to be forced to confess the Saviour whom he 
regards as the brightness of the Father's glory ; to 
whom he feels indebted for redemption, and whom 
he hopes to worship and serve with saints and 
angels in heaven. It is not meant to be asserted 
that no believer is ever ashamed of Jesus ; nor that 
under circumstances of peculiar trial he may not 
fear to acknowledge his truth or to assume his 
name. Peter once denied his master. But it is 
certainly true that no man can have right views of 
Christ and right feelings towards him, without 
habitually, openly and gladly acknowledging him 
as his God and Saviour. He will esteem the 
reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures 
of Egypt, and choose rather to suffer affliction with 
the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of 
sin for a season. 

It is not difficult to understand the nature of the 
duty now under consideration. To confess Christ 
is to recognise his character and claims. It is to 
acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ. It is to 
admit the truth of the doctrines which he taught. 
It is to profess our allegiance to him as our Lord 
and Saviour. This confession must be public ; it 


must be made before men ; it must be made with 
the mouth, and not left to be inferred from the 
conduct. It should be remembered that this in- 
cludes more than the mere assumption of the name 
Christian, in distinction from Pagan or Mahomme- 
dan. If men misconceive or misrepresent the 
character of Christ, a profession of such erroneous 
views is not the confession which he requires. To 
acknowledge Christ merely as a good man, or an 
inspired teacher, is in fact to deny him in his true 
character as the Son of God, as the propitiation for 
sin, as the only mediator and the sovereign Lord 
of the living and the dead. And to acknowledge 
the gospel merely as a code of morals, is to reject 
it as the revelation of the grace of God. The 
confession which is required is the public acknow- 
ledgment of Christ in his true character, and of his 
gospel in its real nature. It will not do to strip the 
gospel of every thing offensive to human pride and 
to acknowledge the rest. The very thing to be 
done is to take the shame of professing what is a 
scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. 
It is to acknowledge our faith and confidence in a 
Saviour despised and rejected of men, and in 
doctrines which human reason can neither discover 
nor comprehend. 

There are several ways in which this public 
confession is to be made. As already remarked 


there is a confession included in the obedience 
rendered to the commands of Christ. Obedience, 
therefore, is one form of confession, and can never 
be rendered without distinguishing those who yield 
it as the followers of Christ. Again, occasions 
frequently occur in which Christians are called 
upon to avow the truth, to defend it against gain- 
sayers, to urge it upon those over whom they have 
influence or authority, or to give a reason of the 
hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. Cut 
the chief and most important mode of confession is 
attendance upon the ordinances of Baptism and the 
Lord's supper. So much prominence is given to 
these institutions, in the word of God, that every 
Christian should have clear ideas of their nature 
and of his own duty in regard to them. 

Sectioh II. Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The na- 
ture, design and efficacy of these ordinances. 

That Baptism and the Lord's supper, whatever 
other important ends they may be intended to serve, 
were appointed as a mode of publicly professing 
our faith in the gospel, is clearly taught in the Bible. 
The public participation of the rites of any religion 
is, in its nature, a profession of that religion. It is 
on this ground the apostle charges with idolatry the 

256 PROFESSION or reli&iox. 

Corinthians who, within the precincts of the heathen 
temples, partook of the sacrifices oflered to idols. 
I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say. The 
participation of a Christian ordinance, is it not an 
act of Christian worship ? The participation of a 
Jewish sacrifice, is it not an act of Jewish worship ? 
and by parity of reasoning, is not the participation 
of a heathen ordinance an act of heathen worship ? 
This is the purport of the apostle's argument in 
1 Cor. x. 15 — 21, and it is obviously founded on 
the admitted truth, that joining in the celebration of 
the ordinances of the gospel, is, from the nature of 
the act, a profession of the religion of Christ. The 
recipient thereby places himself in communion with 
the object of worship and with all his fellow- 
worshippers. For we being many are one bread 
and one body ; for we are all partakers of one bread. 
Hence the apostle adds, Ye cannot drink of the 
cup of the Lord and of the cup of devils ; ye cannot 
be partakers of the Lord's table and the table of 
devils. It is impossible to be in communion with 
Christ and Satan at the same time, and, therefore, 
it is the grossest inconsistency to partake at the 
same time of the ordinances of Christ and of the 
sacrifices of devils. All this supposes that a parti- 
cipation of Christian ordinances is a profession of 
the Christian religion. When Christ commanded 
the apostles to make disciples, baptizing them, &c, 


he obviously intended that baptism should be a 
badge of discipleship, or that by that rite his fol- 
lowers should acknowledge their relation to him. 
This, indeed, is the prominent idea in the formula, 
To baptize in the name of any one. And hence 
Paul reminded the Corinthians that they were not 
his disciples or followers, by asking them, Were 
ye baptized in the name of Paul ? It is, however, 
unnecessary to dwell upon this point, as it is 
universally conceded that the participation of the 
ordinances of the gospel is the appointed mode of 
confessing Christ before the world. 

As it is the duty of every Christian to confess 
Christ, and to confess him in this particular way, 
it is necessary to inquire more particularly into the 
nature and design of these ordinances. It has long 
been customary in the church to call these institu- 
tions sacraments. Little light, however, can be 
derived from the use of this term, because it is not 
a scriptural word, and because it is employed by 
ancient writers in a very comprehensive sense. As 
it comes from the word meaning to consecrate, any 
thing sacred was called a sacrament. The Romans 
ipplied the term to a sum of money deposited in 
the hands of the High Priest to abide the decision 
of a suit. They also called the oath by which 
soldiers consecrate themselves to the military service 
a sacrament ; and in the Latin church, (whence we 


have borrowed the word), it was used as synony- 
mous with mystery, not only as applied to things 
which had a hidden meaning, but in its wider sense 
as signifying what was undiscoverable by human 
reason. In this sense the Gospel itself, the calling 
of the Gentiles, the future conversion of the Jews 
are sacraments. It is not from a word of such latitude 
of meaning that the nature of the Christian ordi- 
nances can be learned ; but, on the contrary, the 
Christian sense of the word must be determined 
from what the Scriptures teach concerning the ordi- 
nances to which the word is now applied. 

They are, in the first place, rites of divine ap- 
pointment, and not of human institution. When 
Christ was about to ascend into heaven, he said, 
Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing 
them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of 
the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all 
things whatsoever I have commanded you ; and, 
lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the 
world. The rite of baptism was, therefore, insti- 
tuted by Christ, and is to be continued as long as 
there are disciples to be made, even unto the end of 
the world. And on the night in which he was 
betrayed, he instituted the Lord's supper, saying, 
This do in remembrance of me, with the command 
that it should be observed until he comes. The 
New Testament furnishes abundant evidence that 


the apostles enjoined, both by precept and example, 
the observance of these ordinances, agreeably to the 
Saviour's directions. No rite, therefore, is a sacra- 
ment in the Christian sense of the term, which is 
not a matter of divine appointment, and of perpetual 

In the second place, the Bible teaches us that the 
sacraments are the signs of spiritual blessings. 
They are designed by outward, significant actions, 
to represent inward, spiritual gifts. The great bless- 
ing offered in the Gospel is union with Christ, and 
the consequent participation of his merits and spirit, 
by which we are freed from the condemnation and 
pollution of sin. And this is the blessing which 
baptism and the Lord's supper are designed to 
represent. Hence it is said, As many as have been 
baptized into Christ, have put on Christ; which 
implies union with him.* Believers are said to be 
baptized into one body.t That is, by baptism 
they are constituted one body ; but they are one 
body only in virtue of their union with their com- 
mon head. Know ye not, asks the apostle, that so 
many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, 
were baptized into his death? i. e. so as to be united 
with him in his death.J As union with Christ is 
the great blessing signified by baptism, and as 

* Gal. iii. 27. f 1 Cor. xii. 13. \ Rom. vi. 2. 


pardon and sanctification are the consequences of 
that union, this ordinance is also represented as 
symbolizing these two great blessings of the cove- 
nant of grace. Thus on the day of Pentecost, 
Peter said to the people, Repent, and be baptized 
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for 
the remission of sins.* And Ananias said to Paul, 
Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, 
calling on the name of the Lord.t In many similar 
passages the reference of baptism to pardon is very 
clearly expressed. 

No less clear is its intended significancy of 
sanctification. This is plainly taught in the pass- 
ages from the epistles to the Galatians and Ro- 
mans, quoted above, in which baptism is declared 
to represent our union with Christ, and our death 
to sin and our living unto God. And in the 
epistle to Titus,:}: it is called " the washing of 
regeneration ;" and in the epistle to the Ephesians,§ 
Christ is said to sanctify his church " with the 
washing of water by the word." It need hardly 
be remarked that the ordinance is appropriately 
significant of these great truths. Water is the 
common means of purification. Both the guilt and 
pollution of sin, are represented in Scripture as a 

* Acts ii. 38. f Acts xxii. 10. 4 Titus iii. 5. 

§ Eph. v. 26. 


defilement, and hence they arc said to be washed 
aw'v by the blood and Spirit of Christ. It is this 
two-fold purification that is so appropriately repre- 
sented by the ordinance in question. 

The same truths, under a different aspect, are 
exhibited in the Lord's supper. That the bread 
represents the body of Christ, and the wine his 
blood, is expressly declared by our Saviour when 
he said, " This is my body, this is my blood." 
And by our participation of the bread and wine, 
our participation of that of which they are the 
symbols, is clearly represented. The cup of bless- 
ing which we bless, is it not the communion of the 
blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it 
not the communion of the body of Christ? For we 
being many are one bread, and one body, for we are 
all partakers of that one bread/ Here, as in the 
passage quoted above in reference to baptism, be- 
lievers are declared to be one body, because by 
partaking of the Lord's supper their communion 
with the Lord Jesus is expressed. These ordi- 
nances, therefore, though in different ways, set 
forth the same great truth. They are both divinely 
appointed symbols of our union with Christ, and 
of our participation of the benefits which flow from 
his mediation and death. 

* 1 Cor. x. 16, 17. 


We should greatly err, however, if we supposed 
they were merely signs. We are taught that they 
are seals ; that they were appointed by Christ to 
certify to believers their interest in the blessings of 
the covenant of grace. Among men a seal is used 
for the purpose of authentication and confirmation. 
It is intended to assure the party concerned that the 
document to which it is attached, is genuine and 
binding. In condescension to our weakness, God 
has been pleased not only to promise pardon and 
purity to believers, but to appoint these ordinances 
as seals of his promises. The simple assurance 
given to Noah that the earth should not a second 
time be destroyed by a deluge, might have been a 
sufficient foundation for confidence; but God saw 
lit to appoint the rainbow to be a perpetual con- 
firmation of his covenant; and throughout all 
generations when that bow appears, men feel that 
it is not merely a sign of the returning sun, but a 
divinely appointed pledge of the promise of God. 
In like manner God willing more abundantly to 
show unto his people the immutability of his pro- 
mise, has confirmed it by these seals, which are 
designed to assure the believer that as certainly as 
he receives the signs of the blessings of the cove- 
nant, he shall receive the blessings themselves. 

That these ordinances were really intended to 
confirm the promises of God, is plain from the fact 


that Paul says that circumcision was the seal of the 
righteousness of faith ; that is, it was designed to 
assure Abraham and his descendants that God would 
regard and treat as righteous all who believed his 
words. And that something similar is intimated by 
the ordinance of baptism, may be inferred from the 
manner in which the apostle speaks of the spiritual 
import of circumcision, and then of baptism, in Col. 
ii. 10. 12. And in reference to the Lord's supper, 
the Saviour said, This cup is the New Testament in 
my blood ; that is, the new covenant was ratified 
by his blood. Of that blood the cup is the ap- 
pointed memorial, and it is, therefore, at the same 
time, the memorial and confirmation of the covenant 
itself; it is the assurance to us that God has pro- 
mised the blessings of that covenant to all believers. 
Baptism and the Lord's supper are, therefore, 
visible pledges or confirmations of the fact that 
Christ has died, that his death has been accepted 
as a propitiation for sin, and that God, for his sake, 
will grant pardon, sanctification and eternal life to 
all them that believe. 

If, however, the sacraments are seals on the part 
of God, the reception of them implies a voluntary 
engagement on the part of the Christian to devote 
himself to the service of Christ. The gospel is 
represented under the form of a covenant. It is 
so called by Christ himself. But a covenant im- 
plies mutual stipulations. God promises to his 


people pardon and salvation ; in his strength, they 
promise faith and obedience. The sacraments are 
the seals of this covenant. God, in their appoint- 
ment, binds himself to the performance of his 
promise ; his people, by receiving them, bind 
themselves to trust and serve him. This idea is 
included in the representation given in Romans vi. 
3, 4, where believers are said to have been buried 
with Christ in baptism, that as he rose from the 
dead, they also should walk in newness of life. 
It is included also in the very formula of baptism ; 
for to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son 
and Holy Ghost, implies a voluntary dedication of 
ourselves to God, as our Father, Redeemer and 
Sanctifier. The same thing is taught in all the 
passages in which a participation of Christian 
ordinances, is said to include a profession of the 
gospel ; for the gospel imposes duties as well as 
promises blessings. 

It is probably in this view of these ordinances 
that the name, sacraments, was so generally applied 
to them. For as the oath by which the soldier 
consecrated himself to the military service, was 
called a sacrament, so the ordinances in which the 
believer binds himself to the service of Christ, was 
appropriately designated by the same term. The 
phrase sacramental host is, therefore, not inaptly 
applied to the people of God, considered as a great 


multitude, who have solemnly bound themselves by 
sacraments to live to his glory. 

Baptism and the Lord's supper being ordinances 
of divine appointment and perpetual obligation, 
designed to distinguish the followers of Christ from 
the world ; to exhibit the truths of the gospel ; to 
seal to believers the divine promises, and to bring 
them into covenant with God, the interesting ques- 
tion arises, What good do they do ? What benefits 
are we authorized to expect from them ? The 
answer commonly given to this question by the 
great body of evangelical Christians is, that the 
sacraments are efficacious means of grace, not 
merely exhibiting to, but actually conferring upon 
those who worthily receive them, the benefits which 
they represent. As they are divinely appointed to 
set forth Christ and his benefits, and to assure the 
believer of his interest therein, they have, even as 
moral means, a powerful influence to confirm his 
faith, to excite his gratitude and love, and to open 
the fountains both of penitence and joy. But as 
the word of God has not only its own moral influ- 
ence, as truth, in the sanctification of the soul, but 
also, when attended by the demonstration of the 
Spirit, a divine and effectual power ; so the sacra- 
ments have not only the influence due to the lively 
exhibition of truth, but as means of God's appoint- 
ment, and attended by his Spirit, they become 


efficacious signs of grace, communicating what they 
signify. Nothing less than this can satisfy the 
strong language of the Scriptures on this subject, 
or the experience of God's people. When the 
Christian, in the exercise of faith, sees in the water 
of baptism the lively emblem of the purifying 
influence of the blood and Spirit of Christ, and in 
the bread and wine the memorials of the Saviour's 
death, and knows that they are appointed to be a 
pledge of the salvation of all believers, he receives 
Christ, in receiving the appointed symbols of his 
grace ; he receives anew the forgiveness of his sins ; 
he enters into fellowship with God, and his soul is 
filled with the Holy Ghost. Hence it is that be- 
lievers so often find their strength renewed, their 
faith confirmed, their purposes invigorated, their 
hearts filled with joy and love, while attending on 
these ordinances. 

As the efficacy of the sacraments is a subject of 
great practical importance, it is necessary to ex- 
amine more particularly what the Scriptures teach 
on this subject. Baptism is called the washing of 
regeneration ; it is said to unite us to Christ,* to 
make us partakers of his death and life,t to wash 
away our sins,J to save the soul.§ The bread and 

* Gal. iii. 27. f Rom. vi. 4, 5. * Acts xxii. 16. 

§ 1 Pet. iii. 21. 


wine, iii the Lord's supper, are said to be the body 
and blood of Christ; to partake of these emblems, 
is said to secure union with Christ and a partici- 
pation of the merits of his death.* These and 
similar passages must be understood either with or 
without limitation. If they are to be limited, the 
limitation must not be arbitrarily imposed, but 
supplied by the Scriptures themselves. We have 
no right to say that the sacraments confer these 
benefits in every case in which no moral impedi- 
ment is interposed, because no such limitation is 
expressed in the passages themselves, nor else- 
where taught in the Scriptures. The limitation 
which the Scriptures do impose on these passages 
is the necessity of faith. They teach that the sacra- 
ments are thus efficacious, not to every recipient, 
but to the believer ; to those who already have the 
grace which these ordinances represent. If it be 
asked how they can be said to confer the grace 
which is already possessed ? let it be remembered 
that he who has been sprinkled with the blood of 
Christ, needs the application to be often repeated ; 
he who has received the Holy Spirit needs to 
receive him again; he who has received Christ 
needs to receive him day by day that he may live 
upon him. That the Scriptures teach that the 

* 1 Cor. x. 16, 17. 


passages in question are to be understood with the 
qualification just stated, is clear because otherwise 
they would teach that every one who is baptized is 
a child of God, renewed by the Holy Spirit, united 
to Christ and made a partaker of the saving benefits 
of his death. But this cannot be true, first, because 
the Bible abundantly teaches that those who are 
renewed and receive the Holy Spirit, have the 
fruits of the spirit, love, gentleness, goodness, and 
faith. Where these are not, there the Spirit is not. 
But these fruits do not uniformly, nor even gene- 
rally attend the reception of the outward ordinance. 
We know that although Simon Magus was baptized, 
he remained in the gall of bitterness and in the bond 
of iniquity. We know, from Paul's epistles, that 
many of the baptized Galatians and Corinthians 
were the enemies of the cross of Christ. We know 
from our own daily observation that multitudes of 
those who are baptized and received to the Lord's 
supper, do not differ in temper or life from the 
world around them. God, therefore, in the actual 
administration of his kingdom, contradicts that 
interpretation of his word which makes it teach 
that the sacraments always confer the benefits 
which they represent. It is to degrade the renew- 
ing of the heart and the gift of the Holy Ghost, 
into things of no account, to represent them as the 
portion of the unholy multitudes who in every ago 


and church have been admitted to baptism and the 
Lord's supper. 

In the second place this interpretation is opposed 
to what the Scriptures elsewhere teach of the nature 
of sacraments. The opinion that such ordinances 
uniformly convey grace and introduce the recipient 
into favour with God, was one of those false doc- 
trines of the Jews which Paul so earnestly com- 
batted. Great is the virtue of circumcision for no 
circumcised person enters hell, was the confident 
and destructive persuasion of the formalists of that 
age. In opposition to this doctrine, the apostle 
assured them that circumcision would, indeed, pro- 
fit them, if they kept the law ; but if they broke the 
law, their circumcision became uncircumcision. For 
he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is 
that circumcision which is outward in the flesh ; 
but he is a Jew who is one inwardly ; and circum- 
cision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in 
the letter.* We have here a very explicit state- 
ment of the nature and efficacy of a sacrament. It 
lias no efficacy in itself considered ; its value 
depends on the presence or performance of the 
condition of the covenant to which it is attached. 
If the Jews kept the law, their circumcision secured 
to them all the blessings of the covenant under 

* Rom. ii. 2o— 29. 


which they lived. But if they broke the law, their 
circumcision was of no avail. It was, therefore, 
not external circumcision that made a man a Jew ; 
but the circumcision of the heart, of which the 
external rite was the sign. In like manner it is 
not external baptism that makes a man a Christian, 
but the baptism of the Spirit, of which the washing 
with water is the appointed symbol. The two are 
not necessarily connected, and where the latter is 
wanting, the former can be of no avail. And, lest 
it should be supposed that we have no right to apply 
what is said of the sacraments of the old dispensa- 
tion to those of the new, the very same doctrine is 
taught in reference to the New Testament sacra- 
ments themselves. The apostle Peter says, We 
are saved by water; not ordinary water, but by 
baptism ; not mere external baptism, however, but 
by the sincere turning of the heart to God, that is, 
by the inward change of which baptism is the out- 
ward sign.* This passage, in its doctrinal import, 
is precisely parallel to that referring to circumcision 
just quoted. Neither rite, therefore, necessarily 
conveyed the grace of which they were the signs, 
and to neither is any value ascribed apart from the 
spiritual change which they are appointed to repre- 
sent. In like manner, in reference to the Lord's 

* i Pet. iii. 21. 


supper, the apostle teaches that, so far from the 
mere external act being necessarily connected with 
the reception of the benefits of Christ's death, 
those who ate and drank unworthily, ate and drank 
judgment to themselves. Nothing, indeed, can be 
more opposed to the whole spirit of the religion of 
the Bible, than the doctrine that external rites are 
necessarily connected with spiritual blessings ; that 
the favour of God is to be obtained by mere unre- 
sisting submission to religious ceremonies. A man 
may be baptized, or circumcised on the eighth day, 
he may belong to the purest and most apostolic 
church, he may be blameless as touching all the 
external prescriptions of the Gospel, and still be 
destitute of the grace of God and unprepared for 
his presence. It is not by works of righteousness, 
much less by ceremonial observances, that we are 
to be saved, but by the righteousness of Christ and 
the renewing of the Holy Ghost. He is not a 
Christian who is one outwardly, nor is that baptism 
which is outward in the flesh ; but he is a Christian 
who is one inwardly, and the baptism which is unto 
salvation, is of the heart, in the spirit and not in the 

In the third place, that the sacraments are not 
designed to convey grace to those who have it not, 
is plain because the Scriptures require those who 
are admitted to these ordinances to make a profes- 


sion of their faith and repentance. When the 
apostles began to preach, we are told that, Those 
that gladly received the word were baptized.* 
When the eunuch desired to be baptized, Philip 
said to him, if thou believest with all thy heart, 
thou mayest.t Cornelius did not receive the Holy 
Spirit, in the first instance by baptism, but when 
Peter had evidence that he had already received the 
Spirit, he asked, Can any man forbid water, that 
these should not be baptized, which have received 
the Holy Ghost as well as we ? J Paul was a 
penitent believer before his baptism ; and thus in 
all other cases when men were baptized, they pro- 
fessed to be Christians. They were not made 
Christians by their admission to the sacraments ; 
but their Chrfstian character or standing was thereby 
acknowledged. It has accordingly been the custom 
in all ages to require a profession of faith on the 
part of those who are received to sealing ordinances. 
But faith is an exercise of a renewed heart; and 
if faith supposes regeneration, and baptism supposes 
faith, then by the voice of the church as well as of 
Scripture, baptism also supposes the renovation of 
the heart. 

Finally, God bears his testimony against the 
doctrine which teaches an inseparable connexion 

* Acts ii. 41. | Acts viii. 37. * Acts x. 47. 


between these ordinances and spiritual blessings, 
by granting these blessings to those who have not 
received any sacramental rite. Abraham was jus- 
tified before he was circumcised ; Cornelius was 
a just man, and accepted of God, and a recipient of 
the Holy Ghost, before he was baptized ; the 
penitent thief was assured of his admission into 
paradise though he was never born of water. If 
then the Scriptures require the evidence of regene- 
ration in those who would acceptably attend upon 
the sacraments ; if they teach that many who 
receive the outward sign do not receive the inward 
grace ; and on the other hand, that many receive 
the inward grace, who have not received the out- 
ward sign, then do they also teach that these 
ordinances are not appointed to convey, in the first 
instance, pardon and sanctification, but to be signs 
and seals of these blessings to the penitent believer, 
and that to him, and to him only are they efficacious 
means of grace. 

It is, therefore, obvious that those passages in 
Scripture which refer our salvation to baptism and 
the Lord's supper cannot, consistently with the 
plain teaching of the Bible, be understood strictly 
according to the letter. At the same time it must 
not be supposed that they are to be perverted, or 
taken in any other than their natural sense ; that is, 
in any other sense than that which the universally 


received rules of interpretation justify and require. 
It is agreeable to the common language of men and 
to the usage of the Scriptures, that when any de- 
claration or service is the appointed means of 
professing faith and obedience, making such decla- 
ration or performing such service is said to secure 
the blessings which are promised to the faith thereby 
professed. It is said, whosoever confesseth that 
Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is born of God ; 
and again, with the mouth confession is made unto 
salvation. This is said because confession implies 
faith ; and no one supposes that an insincere, 
careless, heartless confession will secure the salva- 
tion of any man. Thus also we are said to be 
saved by calling on the Lord, because invocation 
implies trust. In like manner we are said to be 
saved by baptism, because baptism implies faith. 
If this faith be wanting, baptism can do us no more 
good than a heartless confession. There is no more 
difficulty in understanding why the Scriptures should 
connect salvation with the use of the sacraments, 
than in understanding why they should connect the 
same blessing with invocation or confession. There 
is no difficulty in either case, if we allow the Scrip- 
tures to explain themselves, and interpret them as 
we explain all other writings. 

Again, it is according to scriptural usage ta 
ascribe to a sign the name and attributes of the 


thing signified. Thus circumcision is called the 
covenant of God, because it was the sign of that 
covenant. Christ called the cup the new covenant ; 
the wine he called his blood and the bread his body. 
Those who partake of the wine are, therefore, said 
to receive his blood, and of course the benefits 
which it purchased. 

It is to be remembered, also, that the sacraments 
are seals, and that it is common to attribute to any 
ceremony, by which an engagement is ratified, the 
efficacy which belongs not to the ceremony, but to 
the engagement itself. The ceremonial of inaugu- 
ration is said to induct a man into the office, the 
right to which it merely publicly declares and con- 
firms. Even in the strict language of the law, a 
deed, with its signature and seal, is said to convey 
a right of property, although it is simply the evi- 
dence of the purpose of the original possessor. It 
is that purpose which conveys the right, and if it 
can be shown that the man who holds the deed was 
not the man intended by the grantor, the deed would 
be regarded as worthless. If a man deeds an estate 
to A, on the assumption that he is the son of B, 
should it be proved that A was not the son of B, 
the deed would convey to him no valid title. But 
the blessings of the Gospel are declared to be in- 
tended for penitent believers ; the sacraments are 
the external means of recognising the conveyance 


of these blessings ; to those who are really what 
they profess to be, they do in fact convey and 
secure these blessings ; to others they confer no 
such benefits. When an unbeliever receives these 
ordinances, he no more obtains a title to the bless- 
ings which they represent, than a man obtains a 
title to an estate by falsely assuming the name of 
the person for whom it is intended. 

There is nothing, therefore, in the language of 
the Scriptures on this subject which is not perfectly 
consistent with the common protestant doctrine that 
the sacraments have no inherent efficacy of their 
own, but become efficacious means of grace to those 
who believe ; the Holy Spirit thereby communi- 
cating to believers the blessings of which those 
ordinances are the significant representations. 

Section III. Obligation to attend upon the Sacraments. 
Qualifications for the proper discharge of the duty. 

The obligation which rests upon all Christians 
to attend upon the ordinances of Baptism and the 
Lord's supper, arises clearly from what has been 
shown to be their nature and design. We have 
seen that they are institutions appointed by Christ 
himself. He has commanded all his followers to 
be baptized and to commemorate his death, in a 
prescribed manner. As obedience to Christ is 


necessary, so is a participation of these ordinances. 
A-S, however, it is a necessity arising out of a posi- 
tive command, it is a qualified necessity, since such 
commands are not binding under all circumstances. 
It is impossible that a sinner should be saved with- 
out faith and repentance ; but it is not impossible 
that he should be saved without the sacraments. 
As we are bound to keep the sabbath as part of our 
obedience to God, and yet may innocently labour 
on that day when necessity or mercy requires it ; 
so although bound to present ourselves at the table 
of the Lord as an act of obedience, we may be 
innocently absent, whenever that absence is not the 
effect of a wilful or disobedient spirit. As, how- 
ever, the command of Christ on this subject is 
express, the obligation which it imposes is of the 
strongest character. 

In the second place, it has been shown that to 
confess Christ before men is an indispensable duty, 
and that the sacraments are the appointed means for 
making this confession; it follows, therefore, that 
attendance on the sacraments is also an indispensa- 
ble duty. When in human governments the laws 
prescribe a particular mode in which we are to 
acknowledge allegiance to our country, it is not 
competent for us to neglect that mode ; nor have 
we a right to adopt a different method of acknow- 
ledgment, or to suffer our allegiance to be inferred 


from our conduct. If we wish to be recognised a? 
citizens, we must in the prescribed form acknow- 
ledge ourselves such. And if Christ has prescribed 
a particular way in which he will be acknowledged 
by his followers, intelligently and wilfully to refuse 
obedience to his command, is to renounce our alle- 
giance to him and to forfeit the benefits of his 

Again, as the sacraments are the seals of the 
covenant of grace, to reject these seals is to reject 
the covenant itself. It is not meant that they are 
in such a sense indispensable that if a man perform 
the conditions of the covenant, he will be excluded 
from its benefits, for the want of the seals. Among 
men, indeed, we often see that the want of the 
prescribed number of witnesses to a signature, the 
want of a seal, or even a clerical error in a docu- 
ment, is sufficient to set aside a solemn engagement. 
Nothing of this kind can occur under the govern- 
ment of God, where justice is never embarrassed by 
technical formalities. The apostle expressly teaches 
that as circumcision becomes uncircumcision, if the 
law be broken, so, on the other hand, if a man keep 
the law, his uncircumcision shall be counted for 
circumcision. It is admitted, therefore, that if a 
man has the faith, repentance and obedience required 
by the gospel, his salvation is secure. But no man 
has a riant to assume that he has this faith and 


repentance, who neglects to obey the commands of 
Christ. The essential conditions of salvation have 
been the same under every dispensation. If any 
man, under the old economy, had the faith of Abra- 
ham, he was entided to the blessings promised to 
Abraham. Nevertheless, as circumcision was the 
appointed means of expressing that faith, and of 
accepting the covenant of which it was the condi- 
tion, it was expressly declared, that the uncircum- 
cised man-child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not 
circamcised, that soul shall be cut off from his 
people ; he hath broken my covenant.* Is it not 
equally true that those who intelligibly and wilfully 
neglect baptism and the Lord's supper, break the 
covenant under which the church is now placed ? 
It will not do for us to say, if we have the sub- 
stance, the form is of little account. We all know 
that if an ancient Israelite had repentance toward 
God and faith in the promised Messiah, his sins 
were forgiven ; and yet unless he expressed his 
faith by bringing the appointed sacrifice to the altar, 
he was not forgiven. God saw tit that the mode 
of pardon should be thus exhibited and recognised. 
In like manner he now requires that the method of 
salvation should be publicly acknowledged and set 
forth in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's 

* Gen. xvii. 14. 


supper. We do, therefore, as really reject the 
covenant of God by neglecting these ordinances, as 
did the Israelites who rejected circumcision or the 
offering of sacrifices. 

Another illustration of this subject may be bor- 
rowed from the marriage contract. The essence 
of the covenant is the mutual consent of parties. 
But in all civilized countries some public mani- 
festation of that consent is essential to the validity 
of the engagement. Thus, also, the essence of our 
covenant with God is repentance and faith ; but 
baptism and the Lord's supper being the divinely 
appointed means of signifying and ratifying the 
engagement, they can no more be neglected than 
the public recognition of the marriage covenant. 

It was a fatal perversion when the Jews imagined 
that circumcision and sacrifices without faith and 
obedience, were effectual to salvation, and it is no 
less a fatal delusion to imagine that baptism and the 
Lord's supper without those inward graces can 
secure the favour of God. But in avoiding one 
extreme, we must not run into the opposite. 
Though the ancient sacrifices without faith were an 
abomination to the Lord ; the sacrifices were still, by 
divine appointment, necessary ; and although the 
Christian ordinances, without the grace which they 
represent, are empty forms, they too by divine ap- 
pointment are obligatory and, in their place, essential. 


No Christian, however, needs to be forced by 
stress of authority to yield obedience to the com- 
mands of Christ. It is enough for him that it is 
the will of his Saviour that the truths and blessings 
of the Gospel should be exhibited and commemo- 
rated by the perpetual observance of the ordinances 
of baptism and the Lord's supper. Though he 
were unable to see any fitness in such observance, 
or though experience taught him nothing of its 
value, yet would he cheerfully obey. Much more 
may he be expected to yield a ready obedience, 
when he knows both from Scripture and experience, 
that these ordinances are made to the believer the 
channels of divine blessings ; that they are means 
of grace and sources of the purest spiritual en- 
joyments ; that they bring him into communion 
with Christ and unite him in holy fellowship with 
all his brethren. He knows that to neglect these 
divine institutions is not only to violate a command 
of God and to break his covenant ; it is to refuse to 
be fed at his table and to reject the provision which 
he has made for the life of our souls. 

If the sacraments are such important means of 
grace, and if attendance upon them is a duty so 
plainly enjoined in the word of God, it is important 
to enquire what are the proper qualifications for 
the acceptable discharge of this duty. 

In considering this subject we must not confound 


the qualifications which the church has a right to 
demand of those who present themselves as candi- 
dates for Christian communion, with those which 
such candidates are bound to seek in themselves. 
The church cannot judge the heart; she can only 
require a credible profession. It is her duty to 
explain the nature of the gospel, with its promises 
and commands, and to state clearly what is the nature 
of the service in which those engage, who profess 
to embrace the offers of salvation. Those who, 
when thus instructed, declare that they accept the 
offers of divine mercy, and purpose to live in obe- 
dience to the divine commands, she receives into 
communion, unless there be some tangible evidence 
of the insincerity of their professions. This she 
does, not because she judges them to be true Chris- 
tians, but because they possess the qualifications 
which alone she has a right to demand. No priest 
under the old dispensation ever ventured to debar a 
man from the altar, because in his own mind, he 
might judge him to be destitute of the faith and 
penitence implied in the act of presenting a sacrifice. 
If the offerer had the external qualifications pre- 
scribed by the law, he was admitted. To Him who 
searches the heart, it was left to decide upon his 
spiritual state. Thus also, under the gospel dis- 
pensation, we find the apostles baptizing and admit- 
ting to the Lord's supper all who made the requisite 


profession and against whom no visible evidence of 
insincerity could be produced. Whatever was 
considered a sufficient reason for excommunicating 
a church member, was of course regarded as suffi- 
cient to exclude an applicant for admission. It is 
of importance to remember that the church does not 
profess to believe all those to be true Christians, 
whom she admits to her communion. Of their 
inward sincerity she cannot judge ; to their own 
master they must stand or fall. Many are no doubt 
confirmed in a false judgment of themselves, be- 
cause they consider their admission to the church to 
be an expression of the judgment of their pastor, 
or brethren, that they are what they profess to be. 
It is natural for them to think well of themselves, 
when they consider experienced Christians as pro- 
nouncing a favourable, judgment of their spiritual 
state. But they should remember that it is not the 
prerogative of the church to judge the heart; she 
must receive all who have the external qualifica- 
tions which the Scriptures require. 

But though the church is obliged to confine her 
demands to a credible profession of faith and re- 
pentance, it is the duty of those who seek admis- 
sion to her communion, to see that they have all the 
qualifications which the nature of the service de- 
mands. These qualifications may all be reduced to 
knowledge and piety. 


Did tlie Scriptures teach that the sacraments had 
an inherent efficacy of their own ; that the water 
of baptism had power to wash away sin, and the 
bread and wine a virtue to sustain spiritual life, 
then indeed they might be administered to the 
ignorant, the insensible, or the dying. But if we 
are taught that the efficacy both of the word and 
ordinances depends not on them, nor on those who 
administer them, but on the Holy Spirit, revealing 
and applying the truth thereby exhibited, then it is 
plain that they must be understood in order to be 
beneficial. It is one of the most important doctrines 
of the Bible that God sanctifies his people through 
the truth. But truth is not truth to him who does 
not understand it. If you repeat to an ignorant 
man a mathematical formula, although it may con- 
tain a proposition of the highest value, to him it is 
nothing. It communicates no idea to his mind, 
and can produce no effect upon it. Or if you tell 
him that God has set forth his Son to be a propi- 
tiation for our sins through faith in his blood ; if he 
does not understand the meaning of the words, it 
is as though he never heard them. We, therefore, 
do not preach in an unknown tongue ; nor do we 
send Hebrew Bibles to the Hindoos, or the Greek 
Scriptures to the Hottentots. Unless the truth is 
understood, it is not present to the mind, and can- 
not operate upon it. In like manner, unless the 


sacraments are understood by those who receive 
them, they are, for them, an unmeaning ceremony. 
They either exhibit nothing, or they excite erro- 
neous views and apprehensions. We degrade the 
Scriptures into formulas of incantation, and the 
sacraments into magical rites, if we suppose a 
knowledge of their meaning to be unnecessary. 
God is a Spirit, and they who worship him must 
worship him in spirit — intelligently as well as 
sincerely and inwardly. It is, therefore, essential 
to a proper attendance on the sacraments that we 
should know what they are designed to represent, 
what benefits they confer and what obligations they 
impose. When they are thus understood ; when 
the believer sees in them the clear exhibition of the 
truths and promises of the gospel, and knows that 
they were appointed to be the means of his confess- 
ing Christ before men, and to ratify the gracious 
covenant of God with his soul, he then really 
receives the spiritual blessings of which the sacra- 
ments are the outward signs. 

The knowledge requisite to a proper understand- 
ing of the sacraments includes a knowledge of all 
the essential doctrines of the Gospel. When a man 
is baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son 
and of the Holy Ghost, unless these sacred names 
represent to his mind some definite idea ; unless he 
knows them to be the names of the persons of the 


Godhead, he cannot know what he does in submit- 
ting to be baptized. He does not acknowledge 
Jehovah ; nor does he receive him as his cove- 
nant God, Redeemer and Sanctirier. As baptism 
is designed to signify and seal our union with 
Christ, and our deliverance through him from the 
guilt and dominion of sin, unless we know ourselves 
to be sinners, and know that it is necessary for us 
to be united to Christ, and by his blood and Spirit, 
to be pardoned and renewed, the ordinance for us 
loses all its signirlcancy. Thus a knowledge of the 
truth concerning God, concerning sin, atonement 
and regeneration is essential to a proper participa- 
tion of this ordinance. And as the Lord's supper 
is intended to be a memorial of the death of Christ, 
unless we know who he was, why he died and 
what benefits his death secures, we are incapable 
of profitably joining in this service. All the affec- 
tions must have an appropriate object. If we love, 
we love something ; if we fear, we fear something ; 
if we desire, we desire something. There can be 
neither faith, nor love, nor penitence, nor hope, 
nor gratitude, but as objects suited to these exer- 
cises are present to the mind ; and the nature of 
these exercises depends upon the nature of the 
objects which call them forth. If they are excited 
by the truth, they are right and good; and just 
in proportion to the clearness with which the truth 


is spiritually discerned, will be the purity and 
strength of the religious emotions. Knowledge, 
therefore, is essential to religion. 

We must not suppose, however, that knowledge 
and learning are synonymous terms, or that all 
knowledge is derived from without, through the 
medium of the understanding. Very far from it. 
A large part of our knowledge is derived from our 
own consciousness or inward experience. The 
same external revelation may be presented to two 
equally intelligent men ; if the one is made, by the 
Spirit of God, to feel in accordance with the truth, 
and the other is destitute of such feelings, the 
former will possess a knowledge of which the latter 
has no conception. He will have an insight into the 
nature of the things revealed, and into their truth and 
value, which is due entirely to what passes within 
his own bosom. These men, although they may 
be equal in learning, will differ greatly in know- 
ledge. We accordingly find that the ignorant, 
among God's people, have often far more know- 
ledge of religious truth, than many learned men. 
They have more correct views of its nature ; and tha 
words by which it is expressed excite in theit 
minds far more definite conceptions of the real 
objects of the religious affections. As, however, 
God does not reveal new truths, but sanctifies his 
people by his word, there must be external instruc- 


tion in order to this inward spiritual knowledge ; 
hence ignorance of the truths revealed in the Scrip- 
tures, as it is inconsistent with the existence of 
right religious feeling, or in other words, with 
religion itself, so it is inconsistent with the proper 
participation of those ordinances by which those 
truths are set forth and confirmed. 

The other qualifications for an acceptable partici- 
pation of the sacraments are naturally suggested by 
the view given of their nature. As they are the 
appointed means for making a public profession of 
religion, it is of course requisite that we should be 
and believe what we therein profess. The sub- 
stance of this profession is that we are Christians ; 
that we believe in Christ as the Redeemer of sin- 
ners ; that we accept of the terms of salvation pro- 
posed in the Gospel and purpose to live in obedience 
to its commands. If we have not this faith ; if we 
do not thus purpose to renounce our sins and live 
unto God, then do we make a false profession, and 
our service must be unacceptable to God. 

Viewing the sacraments as seals of the covenant 
of grace, it is plain that they require the qualifica- 
tions just mentioned in those who receive them. 
That covenant relates to deliverance from sin. God 
therein engages to grant us salvation ; and we en- 
gage to accept of his mercy on the terms on which 
it is offered. If he promises to be our God ; we 


promise to be his people. But how can those who 
love sin and arc determined not to forsake it, enter 
into this solemn engagement with God ? How can 
those who have no sense of their need of pardon, 
no desire for holiness, no sorrow for past transgres- 
sions, thus covenant with God for forgiveness, 
s:,nctification and eternal life ? 

With regard to the Lord's supper we arc taught 
that it was specially designed to be a memorial of 
Christ's death. If we join in celebrating his death, 
we profess to believe not only that he died, but 
that he was all that he claimed to be ; that his death 
secures the benefits which the Scriptures attribute 
to it ; and that we are bound to aid in keeping this 
great event in perpetual remembrance. The proper 
discharge of this duty requires that we should have 
a due sense of our obligations to Christ for having 
loved us and given himself for us. It requires that 
we should reverence and love him in some measure 
in proportion to his excellence and the value of the 
blessings which we receive from him. It requires 
that we should be prepared to own him, who by 
wicked hands was crucified and slain, as our Lord 
and Saviour, and as such to obey and trust him. 

In whatever light, therefore, the sacraments are 
viewed, whether as the means of publicly confess- 
ing Christ, or as signs and seals of spiritual bles 
sings, or as commemorative of the work of redemp 


tion, no man can profitably, or acceptably attend 
upon them, without adequate knowledge of their 
nature, without faith in the truths which they re- 
present and confirm, or without the penitence, grati- 
tude and love which those truths, when really 
believed, necessarily produce. Where this know 
ledge, faith and love are found, there are the requi- 
site qualifications for acceptable attendance on the 
sacraments ; where they are wanting, such atten- 
dance must include false professions and insincere 

We must not, however, suppose that the want of 
these qualifications frees us from the obligation to 
obey the command of Christ to be baptized and to 
commemorate his death. We are certainly bound 
to worship God though destitute of the reverence, 
faith and love which such worship requires ; and 
the plea of unfitness for the service cannot justify 
us in absenting ourselves from the ordinances which 
Christ has appointed. If we fear to assume the 
responsibility of a public profession of religion, we 
should remember that we make such profession 
every time we join in the public worship of the 
sanctuary. If we say we should offend Gotl by 
approaching his table, without due preparation, let 
us remember that we offend him every time we 
pray, or hear the gospel without faith, penitence 
and obedience. Tt is in vain to attempt to introduce 


consistency into a half religious life. If men will 
renounce all claim to be of the number of God's 
people, and reject his service entirely, they may so 
far be consistent. But they cannot choose one part 
of his service and reject another; they cannot pro- 
fess to be penitent and believing by joining in the 
worship of God, and declare themselves impenitent 
and unbelieving by absenting themselves from the 
sacraments. They do not place themselves on 
neutral ground by such inconsistency. Their only 
safe and proper course is to repent and believe. 
Then will they be acceptable worshippers and ac- 
ceptable communicants. If they frequent the temple 
of God with a sincere desire to do his will, and 
seek his favour, let them, in the same state of mind, 
obey all his commands. If they come to the Lord's 
table to please Christ, to obey his will, to express 
their gratitude for his death, let them come. As 
their day is, so shall their strength be. 

From the review of this whole subject, it is clear 
that the public confession of Christ is an indispen- 
sable condition of discipleship ; that this confession 
must be made by attending on the ordinances which 
he has appointed ; that these ordinances are not 
only the signs and seals of spiritual blessings, but 
are made, by the Holy Spirit, to the believer, effec- 
tual means of grace ; that attendance upon them is, 
therefore, an indispensable duty, requiring no other 


qualifications than such as are necessary for the 
acceptable worship of God ; and, consequently 
that it is incumbent on all those who sincerely 
desire to serve and honour Christ, and to partake 
of his salvation, to receive the sacraments, in obe- 
dience to his will. 



Section I. The nature of true religion. 

It is natural that those who have experienced tjie 
agitations which frequently attend upon conversion, 
and have felt the peace which flows from a hope of 
acceptance with God, to imagine that the conflict is 
over ; the victory won, and the work of religion 
accomplished. This imagination is soon dissipated. 
Birth is not the whole of life ; neither is conversion 
the whole of religion. A young mother may, in 
the fulness of her joy, forget for a moment that her 
vocation as a mother is but just begun ; but when 
she looks upon her infant, so wonderful in its organi- 
zation and instinct with an immortal spirit, the sight 
of its helplessness makes her feel how great a work 
she has still to do. An hour's neglect might 
prove the ruin of her hopes. Thus the young 
Christian, although at first disposed to think that 
his work is finished, soon finds that the feeble prin- 
25* 293 


ciple of spiritual life needs to be watched and 
nourished with ceaseless care. If abandoned at its 
birth, it must perish as certainly and as speedily as 
an exposed infant. 

Another mistake on this subject is made by those 
who suppose that religion is a fitful sort of life ; an 
alternation of excitement and insensibility. Those 
who labour under this delusion, are religious only 
on certain occasions. They live contentedly for 
months in unconcern, and then, if they can be 
moved to tenderness or joy, they are satisfied with 
the prospect of another period of collapse. No 
form of life is thus intermittent. Neither plants nor 
animals thus live. Men do not, when in health, pass 
from convulsions to fainting, and from fainting to 
convulsions ; nor does religion, when genuine, 
ever assume this form. It has, indeed, its alterna- 
tions, as there are periods of health and sickness, 
of vigour and lassitude in the animal frame ; but just 
so far as it deserves the name of religion, it is 
steady, active and progressive ; and not a series of 

It is a still more common error to suppose that 
religion is rather an external than an internal service. 
There are multitudes who consider themselves to 
be religious, because they attend upon religious 
services ; who suppose that a regular attendance 
upon public worship, and the outward forms of 


religion is enough to entitle them to the character 
of Christians. 

The Scriptures teach us that religion is a new, 
spiritual life. Its commencement is, therefore, 
called a new birth, a creation, a spiritual resurrec- 
tion. It is, as to its principle or source, mysterious. 
No man can tell what life is. He sees its differen* 
forms in vegetables, animals, and in the rational soul , 
but he cannot detect the secret spring of these dif- 
ferent kinds of activity. The nature of spiritual 
life is not less inscrutable. The wind bloweth 
where it listeth ; ye hear the sound thereof, but ye 
cannot tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth. 
So is every one that is born of the Spirit. A new 
kind of activity manifests itself in the soul that is 
born of God ; but whence that activity springs, and 
how it is maintained, are among the secret things 
of God. We cannot doubt, however, that there is 
some permanent cause of those new exercises. 
We know that the life of the body does not consist 
in the acts of seeing, hearing, tasting, &c. ; nor 
does the soul consist of thought and volition ; nei- 
ther does spiritual life .consist in the acts which 
manifest its existence. There is in regeneration a 
change effected in the state of the soul which ac- 
counts for its perceptions, purposes and feelings 
being different from what they were before, and 
for their so continuing. The cause of this differ- 


ence is sometimes called a new heart, or grace, or 
the spirit, or the new man, or the renewal of the 
inner man. All these terms are used to designate 
the principle of spiritual life, which manifests itself 
in the fruits of holiness. It is called life because it 
is thus permanent, or abiding. Those who for a 
time manifest a degree of ardour and activity in 
relation to religion and then lose all interest in the 
subject, are like dead bodies on which electricity 
may for a while produce some of the appearances 
of animation, but which soon become insensible to 
all means of excitement. In such cases there is no 
principle of life. Where religion is genuine, it has 
its root in a new heart and is, therefore, per- 

It is moreover characteristic of the life of sentient 
and rational creatures, to be spontaneous in its 
exercises. There are certain acts to which it 
prompts and in which it delights. It is not by 
constraint that animals eat, or drink, or sport in the 
consciousness of strength ; neither is it by compul- 
sion that men exercise their minds in the reception 
and communication of ideas and the reciprocation 
of feeling. To be so isolated from their fellow- 
beings as to be prevented from giving vent to the 
force of intellectual and social life, is the severest 
of all condemnations. In like manner reverence, 
gratitude, love, submission, are the spontaneous 


exercises of the renewed heart. They are the free, 
unbidden, unconstrained effusions of the soul. That 
religion which is reluctant, or forced, whether by 
fear or stress of conscience, is spurious. Filial 
obedience, if rendered from a dread of punishment, 
or from mere regard to appearances, is very differ- 
ent from that which flows from respect and love ; 
and unless the service which we render to God 
flows unbidden from the heart, it is no evidence 
that we are his children. The Bible represents the 
people of God as delighting in the things of God. 
His word, his ordinances, his sanctuary, his pre- 
sence are their chief joy. When a man is ill, he 
takes little pleasure in the ordinary sources of 
enjoyment, and when the Christian is in a declining 
state, he knows little of the joy which belongs to 
religion. Still whatever there is of spiritual life in 
any soul, will manifest itself in spontaneous exer- 
cises of piety. 

Again, life, in all the forms in which we are 
acquainted with it, is progressive ; feeble at the 
beginning, it advances gradually to maturity. It is 
thus in plants, in animals, and in the rational soul ; 
and it is thus also in the spiritual life. There is a 
joy which attends the beginning of a religious life, 
which very often declines ; a fact which may lead 
even the true Christian to think that religion itself is 
declining in his heart. Such joy, however, is a 


very uncertain criterion of the progress or decline of 
the spiritual life. The gambols of young animals 
show an exuberance of joy, which those that have 
reached maturity no longer experience. But how 
imperfect is the organization of these playful crea- 
tures, how small is their power of endurance, how 
little their serviceable strength, in comparison with 
that of those who know not half their joys. It is 
not unnatural, therefore, that young Christians 
should feel a glow of happiness from the exercise 
of feelings, delightful from their novelty as well as 
from their nature, which those more advanced may 
have ceased to experience, in whom feeling has 
ripened into principle, and mere joyful emotions 
settled into a peace which passes all understanding. 
Though joy is not the proper criterion of progress 
in the divine life, it is as essential to its nature to 
be progressive, as it is to the life of the body to 
increase in stature as it advances from childhood to 
maturity, or to that of the mind to gather strength 
in its progress from infancy to manhood. A man 
with the mind of an infant is an idiot; he is desti- 
tute of what belongs to a rational being. And a 
Christian, who makes no progress in holiness, must 
be essentially defective. The surest evidence of 
such progress is increase of strength ; strength of 
faith ; strength of purpose ; strength of principle ; 
strength to do right, to resist evil, and to endure 


suffering. The people of God go from strength to 
strength, perfecting holiness in the fear of the 

True religion, then, is not an external service ; 
nor is it a mere excitement of fear and sorrow suc- 
ceeded by peace and joy; nor is it a fitful alterna- 
tion of such exercises. It is a permanent principle 
of action, spontaneous in its exercises and progres- 
sive in its nature. These attributes, are essential 
to its genuineness, but they do not constitute its 
whole character. It is a participation of the divine 
nature,* or the conformity of the soul to God. It 
is described as the putting off the old man with his 
deeds and putting on the new man, which is re- 
newed in knowledge after the image of him that 
created him ;t or a being renewed in the spirit of 
our mind, that we may put on the new man, which 
after God is created in righteousness and true holi- 
ness.^: These two passages express the same truth. 
To be renewed in knowledge, or rather, unto know- 
ledge, means to be renewed so as to know ; and 
knowledge includes the perception, recognition and 
approbation of what is true and good. This com- 
prehensive sense of the word is not unusual in the 
Scriptures ; and hence it is said, that to know God 
and Jesus Christ is eternal life. Such knowledge 

* 2 Pet. i. 4. - f Col. iti. 10. | Eph. iv. 24. 


is the life of the soul ; it is conformity to God in 
the perception and approbation of truth. No higher 
conception of moral excellence can be formed than 
that which resolves it into the harmony of the soul 
with God in judgment and will. This is what in 
the parallel passage, the apostle calls righteousness 
and holiness of truth, (that is, founded upon, or 
arising from truth.) The same idea of sanctifica- 
tion is presented in Rom. xii. 2, when it is said, 
Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, 
that ye may prove (or, approve) what is that good, 
and acceptable and perfect will of God. This is 
true religion, to approve what God approves, to 
hate what he hates, and to delight in what delights 

It is obvious from this representation that the 
whole man is the subject of this change. There 
are new perceptions, new purposes and new feel- 
ings. The mind becomes more and more enlight- 
ened, the will more submissive to the rule of right, 
and the affections more thoroughly purified. The 
apostle in his epistle to the Thessalonians says, 
The God of peace sanctify you wholly ; and I pray 
God your whole spirit, and soul and body be pre- 
served blameless unto the coming of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. K The body is the subject of sancti- 

* I Thess. v. 23. 


fication in various ways. It is the temple of the 
Holy Ghost,* and is, therefore, holy as consecrated 
to the service, and hallowed by the presence of 
God. Our bodies are also members of Jesus Christ, 
and in virtue of this union, they partake of the 
benefits of redemption, and are hereafter to be 
fashioned like unto his glorious body. And still 
further, the influence of the body upon the soul is 
so manifold, for good or evil, and, in our fallen 
state, so predominantly for evil, that no small part 
of the work of sanctification consists in counter- 
acting that influence. Paul says of himself, I keep 
under my body, and bring it into subjection ; lest by 
any means, when I have preached to others, I my- 
self should be a castaway.! And he declares it to be 
one of the conditions of life, that believers should, 
through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body4 
The body, therefore, is sanctified not only by re- 
deeming it from the service of sin and consecrating 
it to the service of God, but also by restraining its 
power over the soul, making it temperate in its de- 
mands and submissive to the will of the renewed 

As the work of sanctification extends to all our 
faculties, so the image of God which it is designed 
to impress upon the soul, includes all moral excel- 

* 1 Cor. vi, 19. f 1 Cor. ix, 27. + Rom. viii. 13. 


lence. The different graces, such as love, faith, meek- 
ness, kindness, &c, are but different manifestations 
of one and the same principle of goodness. Not 
that justice and benevolence are the same sentiment 
or disposition, f or they are distinct ; but the same 
principle which makes a man just, will make him 
benevolent. Religion, or the principle of divine 
life^ prompts to all kinds of excellence ; and, in 
itself, as much to one as to another; just as the 
principle of life, in plants and animals and in the 
rational soul, leads to a harmonious development of 
the whole in all its parts. The root increases as 
the branches enlarge ; the body grows as the several 
members increase in size ; and judgment and 
memory gain strength as the other powers of the 
mind increase in vigour. Every thing depends 
upon this harmonious progress. If the arms re- 
tained their infantile proportions, while the rest of 
the body advanced to maturity, deformity and help- 
lessness would be the result. Or if judgment and 
feeling gained their full force, while memory and 
conscience remained as in infancy, the mind would 
be completely deranged. The same law of sym- 
metrical development is impressed upon the life of 
the soul. If it exists at all, it manifests itself in 
all the forms of goodness. There may be some 
kinds of excellence, where others are absent; but 
then such excellence has not its source in the 


divine life ; or in a new heart; for that, in its very- 
nature, includes all moral excellence. We feel it 
to be a contradiction to say that he is a good man, 
who though just, is unkind; because goodness in- 
cludes both justice and benevolence. And it is no 
less a contradiction to say that a man is religious 
who is not honest, because religion includes honesty 
as well as piety. It is not simply intended that the 
word religion comprehends and expresses all forms 
of moral excellence, but that the thing meant by 
religion, or the new man, the principle of grace or 
of divine life in the heart, includes within itself all 
kinds of goodness. Reverence, love, submission, 
justice, benevolence, are but different exercises of 
one and the same principle of holiness. There can 
be no holiness without benevolence, none without 
reverence, none without justice. The man, there- 
fore, who is renewed in the spirit of his mind after 
the image of God, is one who has that moral excel- 
lence which expresses itself, according to its different 
objects and occasions, in all the various graces of 
the Spirit. 

The Scriptures give especial prominence to the 
love of God as the most comprehensive and im- 
portant of all the manifestations of this inward 
spiritual life. We are so constituted as to take 
delight in objects suited to our nature ; and the per- 
ception of qualities adapted to our constitution, in 


external objects, produces complacency and desire. 
The soul rests in them as a good to be loved for 
its own sake ; and the higher these qualities, the 
more pure and elevated are the affections which 
they excite. It is the effect of regeneration to enable 
us to perceive and love the infinite and absolute per- 
fection of God, as comprehending all kinds of ex- 
cellence, and as suited to the highest powers and 
most enlarged capacities of our nature. As soon, 
therefore, as the heart is renewed it turns to God, 
and rests in his excellence as the supreme object of 
complacency and desire. 

Love to God, however, is not mere compla- 
cency in moral excellence. It is the love of a 
personal being, who stands in the most intimate 
relations to ourselves, as the author of our exist- 
ence, as our preserver and ruler, as our father, who 
with conscious love watches over us, protects us, 
supplies all our wants, holds communion with us, 
manifesting himself unto us as he does not unto 
the world. The feelings of dependence, obligation 
and relationship, enter largely into that comprehen- 
sive affection called the love of God. This affec- 
tion is still further modified by the apprehension of 
the infinite wisdom and power of its object. These 
attributes are the proper object of admiration ; and, 
when infinite in degree and united with infinite 
goodness, they excite that wonder, admiration, 


reverence and complacency which constitute adora- 
tion, and which find in prostration and worship 
their only adequate expression. There is no attri- 
bute of religion more essential to its nature than 
this reverence for God. Whenever heaven has 
been opened to the view of men, its inhabitants have 
been seen with their faces veiled and bowing before 
the throne of God. And all acceptable worship 
upon earth, proceeds from the humble and contrite 
who tremble at his word. 

The exercise of these feelings of reverence and 
love is either, (so to speak,) casual, as the thoughts 
of God pass and repass through the soul during the 
busy hours of the day ; or it is more prolonged, 
when the soul withdraws from the world, and sets 
itself in the presence of God, to adore his excel- 
lence, to thank him for his goodness, and to sup- 
plicate his blessing. The spirit of devotion which 
so pre-eminently distinguished the Redeemer, dwells 
in all his people. They are all devout; they all 
walk with God ; they all feel him to be near and 
rejoice in his presence; and they all have commu- 
nion with him in acts of private and public worship. 
There is no religion without this intercourse of the 
soul with God, as there is no life without warmth 
and motion in the body. And as the body rapidly 
decays when dead ; so the soul perishes when not 
in communion with God. 



This love of God will manifest itself in submis- 
sion and obedience. The former is an humble 
acquiescence in the will of God, including the per- 
ception and acknowledgment that the commands of 
God concerning all things are right, and that his 
dispensations are all wise, merciful and just. Even 
when clouds and darkness are round about him, 
religion forces upon us the conviction that justice 
and judgment are the habitation of his throne. The 
renewed soul filled with the assurance of the wis- 
dom, power and goodness of God, resigns itself into 
his hands, saying, Thy will be done. When under 
the influence of this spirit, it is free from the dis- 
content and misgivings which destroy the peace 
and aggravate the guilt of those who have no such 
confidence that the judge of all the earth will do 

Love to God must produce obedience, because it 
supposes a conformity of the soul to God in the 
perception and love of what is true and right ; and 
obedience is only the expression or outward mani- 
festation of this conformity ; just as disobedience is 
the evidence of a contrariety between our will and 
the will of God. Wherever there is reconciliation 
to God, or the restoration of the divine image, there 
must be conformity of heart and life to the will of 
God. It is a contradiction to say that a man is like 
God, or is a partaker of his nature, who does not 


love what God loves, and avoid what he hates. 
Obedience is but love in action. It is but the voice, 
and look, and carriage which affection, of necessity, 
assumes. For the love of God is not, as already 
said, mere love to excellence; it is the love of a 
heavenly Father ; and, therefore, it secures obedi- 
ence, not only because it supposes a congeniality of 
mind, if we may so speak, between the people of 
God and God himself, but also because it is his will 
that we should be obedient ; it is what is pleasing 
to him ; and love is no longer love if it does not 
lead to the purpose and endeavour to give pleasure 
to its object. He that hath my commandments and 
keepeth them, said our Saviour, he it is that loveth 
me. Obedience is not so much the evidence of 
love, as it is love itself made visible, or expressed. 
The habitual tenor of a man's life gives a more 
faithful exhibition of his state of heart, than any 
occasional ebullition of feeling, or any mere verbal 
professions ; and where the tenor of the life is not 
in conformity with the will of God, there the heart 
must be in opposition to that will ; ami on the other 
hand, wherever there is love, there must be obe- 

It would be out of analogy with the order of 
things as established by God, if the exercises of the 
spiritual life were not attended by peace and joy. 
Happiness is so intimately associated with these 


exercises that the apostle says, To be spiritually 
minded is life and peace. Excellence and enjoy- 
ment are blended in inseparable union ; so that all 
right emotions and affections are pleasurable. And 
this pleasure is, in kind if not in degree, propor- 
tionable to the dignity of the powers from whose 
exercise they flow. The senses afford the lowest 
kind of happiness ; then, in an ascending scale, the 
social affections ; then the intellectual powers ; then 
the moral emotions, and then the religious affec- 
tions. The kind of enjoyment which attend these 
latter is felt to be more pure and elevated, more 
satisfying and better suited to our nature, than that 
which flows from any other source. Hence the 
Scriptures ascribe to communion with God a joy 
that is unspeakable and full of glory, and a peace 
which passes all understanding. Joy, therefore, is 
one of the fruits of the Spirit ; it is one of the accom- 
paniments and evidences of spiritual life ; it is a 
healthful affusion ; it is the oil of gladness, which 
the Spirit pours over the renewed soul, to invigo- 
rate its exercises, to brighten its visage, and to 
make it active in the service and praise of God. 

As the image of God, after which the soul is 
renewed, consists in moral excellence, and as moral 
excellence means that state of mind, which causes 
a man to feel and act right under all circumstances, 
it is impossible that those who have correct views 


and feelings in regard to God, should not feel and 
act correctly in regard to their fellow-men. Those 
whom the Bible designates as good men are bene- 
volent and just no less than devout. The compre- 
hensive statement of our duty towards our fellow- 
men, is found in the command, Thou shalt love thy 
neighbour as thyself. The love here intended is 
that disposition which leads us to regard our neigh- 
bour with respect and kindness, and to seek to do 
him good. This love is long-suffering and kind ; 
it does not envy the happiness of others but rejoices 
in their welfare. It is not proud, nor does it behave 
itself unseemly. It seeketh not its own. It rejoices 
not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. It beareth 
all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things. 
Without this love, all professions of piety, all gifts, 
all outward acts of self-denial or charity, are worth- 
less. It belongs essentially to the Christian cha- 
racter ; for as self-love, prompting us to the pursuit 
of our own happiness, belongs to our nature aa men, 
so benevolence, prompting us to seek the happiness 
of others, belongs to the nature of the new man. 
A new man means a good man, one who is like 
God, holy, just, benevolent and merciful. 

This meek, kind, trustful temper, which religion 
never fails to produce, is, of course, variously 
modified by the various characters of individuals, 
and by the relations of life. It is no part of the 


teaching of the Bible that we must regard all men 
with the same feelings. While it inculcates bene- 
volence towards all men, it makes provision for the 
peculiar and closer relations in which men stand to 
each other, as members of one family, or one 
society. And the same principle of religion which 
produces this general benevolence, secures the 
exercise of all the affections which belong to the 
various relations of life. It causes us to render 
obedience to -whom obedience is due, fear to whom 
fear, honor to whom honor. It makes men in their 
intercourse with their equals respectful, considerate 
and amiable ; in their conduct to their inferiors 
condescending, just and kind. 

It cannot be too well considered that these social 
virtues are essential to true religion. The people 
of God are those who are like God; but God, as 
we have seen, is just, merciful, long-suffering, 
abundant in goodness and truth. Those, therefore, 
who are dishonest, unkind, proud, revengeful, or 
deceitful, are not his people ; they do not bear the 
heavenly image, and have never been renewed in 
the spirit of their minds. Let no man deceive him- 
self with the hope that though a bad parent, child, 
or neighbour, he may be a good Christian. A 
Christian is like Christ. 

Another form in which a renewed heart cannot 
fail to manifest itself is in self-denial. If any man 


will come after me, said the Saviour, let him deny 
himself, and take up his cross and follow me. The 
necessity of self-denial arises partly from the fact 
that the gratification of our own wishes is often in- 
consistent with the good of others ; and partly from 
the fact that so many of our desires and passions 
are inordinate or evil. The rule prescribed by the 
gospel is, that we are not to please ourselves, but 
every one must please his neighbour, for good to 
edification, even as Christ pleased not himself, but 
though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became 
poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich. 
The daily intercourse of life furnishes constant 
occasion for the exercise of this kind of self-denial. 
He who has the same mind that was in Christ, 
instead of being selfish, is ready to defer his own 
advantage to that of others, to give up his own gra- 
tification, and even his own rights for the good of 
others. If meat causes his brother to offend, he 
will not eat meat while the world lasts. To the 
Jews, he becomes as a Jew, that he may gain the 
Jews. To the weak, he becomes as weak, that he 
may gain the weak. He does not live for himself. 
His own interest is not the main end of his pursuit. 
As a disinterested regard for the good of others 
pre-eminently distinguished the Redeemer, it cha- 
racterises all his followers ; for God has predesti- 


nated them to be conformed to the image of his 

The call for self-denial arising from the corrup- 
tion of our nature, is still more frequent. In con- 
sequence of the fall, the senses have attained an 
undue influence over the soul ; they are incessant 
in their demands, and become more importunate 
the more they are indulged. It is inconsistent 
with reason to yield ourselves to the power of 
these lower principles of our nature ; for reason 
itself teaches us that if a man is governed by his 
body, he is the servant of a slave. But if even a 
rational man feels bound to subject the body to the 
mind, the religious man cannot be sensual. They 
that are Christians have mortified the flesh with its 
affections and lusts ; they keep their bodies in 

What belongs to the body is, in a certain sense, 
external ; the evil dispositions of the heart are in 
more intimate connection with the soul. Pride, 
vanity, envy, malice, the love of self are more 
formidable foes than mere bodily appetites. They 
are stronger, more enduring, and more capable of 
deceit. As these dispositions are deeply seated in 
our nature, the putting off the old man, which is 
corrupt, or the destruction of these unholy prin- 
ciples, is the most difficult of all Christian duties, 
and renders the believer's life a perpetual conflict. 


The flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit 
against the flesh, so that he cannot do the things 
that he would. In this conflict, however, the hetter 
principle is habitually, though not uniformly, vic- 
torious ; for the children of God walk not after the 
flesh, but after the spirit. 

It appears, then, even from this short survey, that 
true Christians are renewed after the image of God 
so as to be holy ; they love God, they rest with 
complacency on his perfections, they acquiesce in 
his will, and rejoice in their relation to him as his 
creatures and children. They are habitually devout 
and have fellowship with the Father of their spirits 
and with Jesus Christ his Son. They are obedient 
children, not fashioning themselves according to 
their former lusts, but as he that called them is 
holy, so are they holy in all manner of conver- 
sation. As they bear the image of a just and 
merciful God, they are honest and benevelent 
towards their fellow-men, not seeking their own, 
but the good of others. And as this victory over 
themselves and this conformity to the image of God 
cannot be obtained without conflict and self-denial, 
they keep up a constant opposition to the more 
subtle evils of the heart. 

Some may be ready to say that if this is religion, 
then no man is religious. It is certainly true that 
many are called, and few chosen. Strait is the 


gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto 
life, and few there be that find it. We must take 
our idea of religion from the Bible, and not from 
the lives of professors. It cannot be denied that 
the Bible makes religion to consist in love to God 
and man ; nor can it be questioned that the love of 
God will manifest itself in reverence, devotion and 
obedience, and the love of men in benevolence and 
justice. And our own conscience tells us that no 
external forms, no outward professions, no assiduity 
in religious services, can entitle us to the character 
of Christians, unless we are thus devout and obe- 
dient towards God, thus just and benevolent towards 
our fellow-men, and thus pure and self-denying as 
regards ourselves. But while it is certain that these 
traits are all essential to the Christian character, it 
is not asserted that all Christians are alike. There 
is as great diversity in their characters as Christians, 
as in their bodily appearance, their mental powers, 
or social dispositions. But as all men, in the midst 
of this endless variety, have the same features, the 
same mental faculties, and the same social affec- 
tions, so all Christians, however they may differ 
in the strength or combination of the Christian 
graces, are all led by the Spirit and all produce the 
fruits of the Spirit. 

Having given this brief outline of the nature of 
true religion, it is proper to say a few words as to 


its necessity. It should be ever borne in mind that 
the necessity of holiness is absolute. With regard 
to other things, some, though desirable, are not 
essential, and others, though essential under ordi- 
nary circumstances, are not universally and abso- 
lutely necessary. But holiness is necessary in such 
a sense that salvation, without it, is impossible, 
because salvation principally consists in this very 
transformation of the heart. Jesus is a Saviour 
because he saves his people from their sins. Those, 
therefore, who are not sanctified, are not saved. 
The doctrine that a man may live in sin, and still 
be in a state of salvation, is as much a contradiction, 
as to say that a man may be ill, when in health. A 
state of salvation is a state of holiness. The two 
things are inseparable ; because salvation is not mere 
redemption from the penalty of sin, but deliverance 
from its power. It is freedom from bondage to the 
appetites of the body and the evil passions of the 
heart; it is an introduction into the favour and 
fellowship of God ; the restoration of the divine 
image to the soul, so that it loves God and delights 
in his service. Salvation, therefore, is always 
begun on earth. Verily, verily, I. say unto you, he 
mat believeth on me hath eternal life. This is the 
language of our Saviour. To be spiritually minded is 
life ; to be carnally minded is death. There is no 
delusion more inexcusable, because none is more 


directly opposed to every doctrine of the Bible, 
than the idea that a state 01 grace is consistent with 
a life of sin. Without holiness no man can see 
God. Whatever our ecclesiastical connexions may 
be, whatever our privileges or professions, if we 
are not holy in heart and life ; if we are not habi- 
tually governed by a regard to the will of God ; if 
we do not delight in communion with him, and 
desire conformity to his image ; if we are not led 
by the Spirit and do not exhibit the love, joy, peace, 
long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meek- 
ness and temperance which that Spirit always 
produces — then we are not religious men, nor are 
we in a state of salvation. 

The Bible knows nothing of proud, selfish, 
covetous, impure Christians. Christians are par- 
takers of a holy calling, they are washed, and 
sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God ; they are 
saints, the sanctified in Christ Jesus ; they mind 
spiritual things; they have crucified the flesh with 
its affections and lusts; they are poor in spirit, 
meek, pure in heart, merciful ; they hunger and 
thirst after righteousness. Not that they have 
already apprehended, or are already perfect; but 
they follow after, if that they may apprehend that 
for which they are also apprehended of Christ 
Jesus ; forgetting the things that are behind, and 


reaching forth unto those things which are before, 
they press toward the mark for the prize of the 
high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Their con- 
versation is in heaven ; from whence also they look 
for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall 
change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like 
unto his glorious body, according to the working 
whereby he is able to subdue all things unto 

Again, as God is holy, it is necessary that his 
people should be holy. There can be no commu- 
nion without concord, or congeniality. If one loves 
what another hates, approves what another con- 
demns, desires what another rejects, there can be 
no fellowship between them. What concord hath 
Christ with Belial ; or what fellowship hath light 
with darkness ? So long, therefore, as we are what 
God disapproves ; so long as we do not love what 
he loves, there can be no fellowship between him 
and us. Hence Christ says, Marvel not that I said 
unto you, ye must be born again. That which is 
born of the flesh, is flesh ; and that which is born 
of the Spirit, is spirit. The carnal mind is enmity 
against God, and so long as this prevails it is impos- 
sible that we should enjoy his presence. As God 
is the only adequate portion of the soul ; as his 
favour and fellowship are essential to our happi- 
ness ; as heaven consists in seeing, loving and 


serving God, it is plain that unless we are sanctified 
we cannot be saved ; we cannot enjoy the society, 
the employments, or the pleasures of the people 
of God above, if we take no delight in them here. 
The necessity of holiness, therefore, arises out of 
the very nature of God, and is consequently abso- 
lute and unchangeable. 

We know also that holiness is the end of redemp- 
tion. Christ gave himself for his church that he 
might sanctify and cleanse it, and that it should be 
holy and without blemish. He died the just for 
the unjust that he might bring us unto God. The 
object of redemption is not attained in the case of 
those who remain in sin ; in other words, they are 
not redeemed. It is, therefore, to subvert the whole 
Gospel, and to make the death of Christ of none 
effect, to suppose that redemption and continuance 
in sin are compatible. The whole design and pur- 
pose of the mission and sufferings of the Saviour 
would be frustrated if his people were not made 
partakers of his holiness ; for the glory of God is 
promoted in them and by them only so far as they 
are made holy, and the recompense of the Re- 
deemer is his bringing his people into conformity 
to his own image, that he may be the first-born 
among many brethren. Every child of God feels 
that the charm and glory of redemption is deliver- 
ance from sin and conformity to God. This is the 

HOLY living. 319 

crown of righteousness, the prize of the high calling 
of God, the exaltation and blessedness for which he 
longs, and suffers and prays. To tell him that he may 
be saved without being made holy, is to confound 
all his ideas of salvation, and to crush all his hopes. 
The nature of salvation, the character of God, the 
declarations of his word, the design of redemption, 
all concur to prove that holiness is absolutely and 
indispensably necessary, so that whatever we may 
be, or whatever we may have, if we are not holy, 
we are not the children of God nor the heirs of his 

Section II. The means of sanctificatioyi. 

The attainment of holiness is often treated, even 
by Christian writers, as a mere question of morals, 
or at most of natural religion. Men are directed to 
control, by the force of reason, their vicious pro- 
pensities ; to set in array before the mind the mo- 
tives to virtuous living, and to strengthen the will 
by acts of self-restraint. Conscience is summoned 
to sanction the dictates of reason, or to warn the 
sinner of the consequences of transgression. The 
doctrines of the presence and providence of God, 
and of future retribution, are more or less relied 
upon to prevent the indulgence of sin, and to stimu- 
late to the practice of virtue. Special directions 


are given how to cultivate virtuous habits, or to 
correct those which are evil. 

As we are rational beings and were meant to be 
governed by reason in opposition to appetite and 
passion, there is much that is true and important in 
such disquisitions on the practice of virtue. But 
as we are depraved beings, destitute of any recu- 
perative power in ourselves, such rules and the 
efforts to which they lead, must, by themselves, be 
ineffectual. God has endowed the body with a 
restorative energy, which enables it to throw off 
what is noxious to the system, and to heal the 
wounds, which accident or malice may have in- 
flicted. But when the system itself is deranged, 
instead of correcting what is amiss, it aggravates 
what would, otherwise, be a mere temporary 
disorder. And if by external means the evil 
is checked in one part, it re-appears in another. 
Though you amputate a decaying limb, the re- 
maining portion may soon exhibit symptoms of 
mortification. So long as the system is deranged 
such means are mere palliatives, concealing or di- 
verting the evil, but leaving the source of it un- 
touched. It is no less true that so long as the heart 
is unrenewed, all that reason and conscience can do 
is of little avail. They may obstruct the stream, 
or divert it into secret channels, but they cannot 
reach the fountain. As we retain since the fall, 


reason, the power of choice, conscience, the social 
affections, a sense of justice, fear, shame, &c, 
much may be done, by a skilful management of 
these principles of action, towards producing pro- 
priety of conduct and even great amiability and 
worth of character. But it is impossible, by these 
means, to call into existence right views and feel- 
ings towards God and our neighbour, or to eradicate 
the selfishness, pride and other forms of evil by 
which our nature is corrupted. A man may be 
brought, by reason and conscience, to change his 
conduct, but not to change his heart. A sense of 
duty may force him to give alms to a man he hates, 
but it cannot change hatred into love. The desire of 
happiness may induce him to engage externally in 
the service of God, but it cannot make that service 
a delight. The affections do not obey the dictates 
of reason, nor the commands of conscience. They 
may be measurably restrained in their manifesta- 
tions, but cannot be changed in their nature. They 
follow their own law. They delight in what is 
suited to the disposition of him who exercises them. 
Holding up to them what they ought to delight in, 
cannot secure their devotion. 

It is not meant to depreciate reason and con- 
Fcience, but it is necessary that their true province 
should be known, that we may not rely upon inade- 
quate means in our efforts to become holy. Though 


Scripture and experience teach us that our own 
unaided powers are insufficient to bring us to the 
knowledge and love of God, the rules which reason 
suggests for the culture of moral excellence, are, 
for the renewed man, far from being destitute of 
value. It is no doubt of importance that we should 
be acquainted with the counsels of the wise on 
this subject, and that we should habituate ourselves 
to the vigilant use of all these subordinate means 
of improvement ; remembering, however, that it is 
not by the strength of our own purposes, nor by 
the force of moral considerations, nor by any rules 
of discipline, that the life of God in the soul can be 
either produced or sustained. 

While one class of men place their chief reliance 
for moral improvement upon reason and conscience, 
another, and perhaps a larger class, rely upon 
means which, though they have no tendency in 
themselves to produce holiness, are falsely assumed 
to have, in virtue of the appointment of God, an 
inherent efficacy for that purpose. Such arc not 
only the ablutions, pilgrimages and penances of 
the heathen, but the multiplied rites of corrupt 
Christian churches. Sprinkling the body with 
consecrated water, the repetition of forms of prayer, 
attendance upon religious services not understood, 
anointing with oil, the imposition of hands, receiving, 
though without faith, the holy sacraments, are sup- 


posed to convey grace to the soul. Great reliance 
is placed on retirement from the world ; on praying 
at particular times or places, or in a particular 
posture, and on the whole routine of ascetic disci- 
pline. With what laborious and unavailing dili- 
gence these means of destroying sin have been 
employed, the history of the church gives melan- 
choly evidence. Even in the days of the apostles 
the disposition to rely on such means for attaining 
holiness had begun to manifest itself. There were 
even then men who commanded to abstain from 
meats, who forbade marriage, who said, taste not, 
touch not, handle not ; which things, says the 
apostle, have indeed a show of wisdom in will- 
worship and humility, and in neglecting and dis- 
honouring the body, and yet only served to satisfy 
the flesh.* 

The Scriptures teach us a different doctrine. 
They teach that believers are so united to Christ, 
that they are not only partakers of the merit of his 
death, but also of his Holy Spirit, which dwells in 
them as a principle of life, bringing them more and 
more into conformity with the image of God, and 
working in them both to will and to do, according 
to his own good pleasure. They teach that so long 
as men are under the law, that is, are bound to 

* Col. ii. 21—23. 


satisfy its demands as the ground of their accept 
ance with God and are governed by a legal spirit, 
or a mere sense of duty and fear of punishment, 
they are in the condition of slaves ; incapable of 
right feelings towards God, or of producing the 
fruits of holiness. But when, by the death of Christ, 
they are freed from the law, in the sense above 
stated, their whole relation to God is changed. 
They are no longer slaves, but children. Being 
united to Christ in his death, they are partakers of 
his life, and in virtue of this union they bring forth 
fruit unto God. They are henceforth led by the 
Spirit which dwells in them ; and this Spirit is a 
source of life not only to the soul but also to the 
body ; for if the Spirit of him that raised Christ 
from the dead, dwell in us, he that raised up Christ 
from the dead shall also quicken our bodies, by his 
Spirit that dwelleth in us. The doctrine of sancti- 
fication, therefore, as taught in the Bible is, that we 
are made holy not by the force of conscience, nor 
of moral motives, nor by acts of discipline, but by 
being united to Christ so as to become reconciled 
to God, and partakers of the Holy Ghost. Christ 
is made unto us sanctification as well as justifica- 
tion. He not only frees from the penalty of the 
law, but he makes holy. There is, therefore, ac- 
cording to the gospel, no such thing as sanctifica- 
tion, without or before justification. Those who 


are out of Christ are under the power, as well as 
under the condemnation of sin. And those who 
are in Christ are not only free from condemnation, 
but are also delivered from the dominion of sin. 

The nature of the union between Christ and his 
people, on which so much depends, is confessedly 
mysterious. Paul having said, We are members 
of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, imme- 
diately adds, This is a great mystery.* It is in 
vain, therefore, to attempt to bring this subject 
down to the level of our comprehension. The 
mode in which God is present and operates through- 
out the universe, is to us an impenetrable secret. 
We cannot even understand how our own souls are 
present and operate in the bodies which they 
occupy. We need not, then, expect to compre- 
hend the mode in which Christ dwells by his Spirit 
in the hearts of his people. The fact that such 
union exists is clearly revealed ; its effects are 
explicitly stated, and its nature is set forth as far as 
it can be made known by the most striking illustra- 
tions. In his intercessory prayer, our Saviour said, 
I pray — that they all may be one, as thou Father 
art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in 
us. — I in them, and thou in me, that they may be 
made perfect in one.t He that keepeth his com- 

• Eph. v. 32. f John xvii. 21—23. 



raandments, says the apostle, dwelleth in him, and 
he in him ; and hereby we know that he abideth in 
us, by the Spirit, which he hath given us.* If any 
man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of 
his, but if Christ be in you, the body, (adds the 
apostle,) may die, but the soul shall live.t Know 
ye not, asks Paul, that your body is the temple of 
the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have 
of God, and ye are not your own? J And to the 
same effect, Know ye not that ye are the temple of 
God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?§ 

The Scriptures are filled with this doctrine. 
The great promise of the Old Testament in con- 
nexion with the advent of the Messiah was, that the 
Holy Spirit should then be abundantly communi- 
cated to men. Christ is said to have redeemed us 
in order that we might receive this promised Spirit || 
And the only evidence of a participation of the 
benefits of redemption, recognized by the apostles, 
was the participation of the Holy Ghost, manifest- 
ing itself either in the extraordinary powers which 
he then communicated, or in those lovely fruits of 
holiness which never fail to mark his presence. 

The effects ascribed to this union, as already 

* 1 John iii. 24. f Rom. viii. 9—11. 

* 1 Cor. vi. 19. § 1 Cor. iii. 16. 

J Gal. iii. 13, 14. 


stated, are an interest in the merits of Christ, in 
order to our justification, and the indwelling of 
his Spirit in order to our sanctification. Its nature 
is variously illustrated. It is compared to that 
union which subsists between a representative and 
those for whom he acts. In this view Adam is said 
to be like Christ and Christ is said to be the second 
Adam ; for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all 
be made alive. This idea is also presented when- 
ever Christ is said to have died for his sheep, or in 
their place ; or when they are said to have died 
with him, his death being virtually their death, 
satisfying in their behalf the demands of justice 
and redeeming them from the curse of the law. It 
is compared to the union between the head and 
members of the same body. The meaning of this 
illustration is by no means exhausted by saying 
that Christ governs his people, or that there is a 
community of feeling and interest between them. 
The main idea is that there is a community of life ; 
that the same Spirit dwells in him and in them. 
As the body is every where animated by one soul, 
which makes it one and communicates a common 
life to all its parts ; so the Holy Ghost, who dwells 
in Christ, is by him communicated to all his people, 
and makes them in a peculiar sense, one with him 
and one among themselves, and imparts to all, that 


life which has its seat and source in him. As the 
body is one, and hath many members, and all the 
members of that one body, being many are one 
body ; so also is Christ, for by one Spirit are we 
all baptized into one body — and have all been made 
to drink into one Spirit.* Another illustration, but 
of the same import, is employed by Christ, when 
he says, I am the vine, ye are the branches ; lie 
that abided in me and I in him, the same bringeth 
forth much fruit ; for without me ye can do nothing. 
As the branches are so united to the vine as to par- 
take of its life and to be absolutely dependent upon 
it, so believers are so united to Christ as to partake 
of his life and to be absolutely dependent on him. 
The Holy Spirit communicated by him to them, is, 
in them, the principle of life and fruitfulness. 

Christ and his people are one. He is the foun- 
dation, they are the building. He is the vine, 
they are the branches. He is the head, they are 
the body. Because he lives, they shall live also ; 
for it is not they that live, but Christ that liveth in 
them. The Holy Spirit, concerning which he said 
to his disciples, He dwelleth with you and shall be 
in you, is to them not only the source of spiritual 
life, but of all its manifestations. They are baptized 

* 1 Cor. xii. 12, 13. 


by the Spirit;* they are bom of the Spirit;! they 
are called spiritual, because the Spirit of God 
dwells in them ;;{: whereas, the unregenerate are 
called natural, or sensual, " not having the Spirit."§ 
Believers are sanctified by the Spirit ;[| they are led 
by the Spirit;^ they live in the Spirit ;** they are 
strengthened by the Spirit ;tt they are filled with 
the Spirit. :j:.t By the Spirit they mortify sin ;§§ 
through the Spirit, they wait for the hope of right- 
eousness ;||!| they have access to God by the 
Spirit ;*[*[ they pray and sing, in the Spirit.*** The 
Spirit is to them a source of knowledge,ttt of joy,|;j"J 
of love, long-suffering, goodness, faith, meekness, 
temperance. §§§ This doctrine of the indwelling of 
the Holy Spirit is so wrought into the texture of the 
Gospel as to be absolutely essential to it. It ceases 
to be the Gospel if we abstract from it the great 
truth, that the Spirit of God, as the purchase and 
gift of Christ, is ever present with his people, 
guiding their inward exercises and outward conduct, 
and bringing them at last, without spot or blemish, 
to the purity and blessedness of heaven. 

* Luke iii. 16. f John iii. 5. * 1 Cor. iii. 10. 

§ Jude. 10. j| I Cor. vi. 11. «[ Rom. viii. 14. 

** Gal. v. 25. ft Eph. iii. 16. ** Eph. v. 18. 

§§ Rom. viii. 13. || Gal. t. 5. 11 Eph. ii. 18. 

*** 1 Cor. xiv. 15. Iff Eph. i. 17. iH 1 Thess. i. 6. 
§§§ Gal. v. 22. 


The secret of holy living lies in this doctrine of 
the union of the believer with Christ. This is not 
only the ground of his hope of pardon, but the 
source of the strength whereby he dies unto sin 
and lives unto righteousness. It is by being rooted 
and grounded in Christ that he is strengthened with 
might by his Spirit in the inner man, and is enabled to 
comprehend the breadth, and length, and depth and 
heigth of the mystery of redemption and to know 
the love of Christ which passes knowledge and is 
filled with all the fulness of God. It is this doc- 
trine which sustains him under all his trials, and 
enables him to triumph over all his enemies, for it 
is not he that lives, but Christ that lives in him, 
giving him grace sufficient for his day, and purify- 
ing him unto himself, as one of his peculiar people 
zealous of good works. 

As union with Christ is the source of spiritual 
life, the means by which that life is to be maintain- 
ed and promoted are all related to this doctrine and 
derive from it all their efficacy. Thus we are said 
to be purified by faith,* to be sanctified by faith,t to 
live by faith,! to be saved by faith. § Faith has this 
important agency because it is the bond of our 
union with Christ. It not only gives us the right 

* Acts xv. 9. f Acts xx vi. 18. 

* Gal. ii. 20- § Eph. ii. 8. 


to plead his merits for our justification, but it makes 
us partakers of his Holy Spirit. Christ has pro- 
mised that all who come to him shall receive the 
water of life, by which the apostle tells us is meant 
the Holy Spirit. It is by faith, and in the persua- 
sion of our consequent union with Christ, that wc 
have confidence to draw near to God and to open 
our souls to the sanctifying influence of his love. 
It is by faith that we receive of his fulness and 
grace for grace. It is by faith that we look to him for 
strength to overcome temptations and to discharge 
our duties. It is by faith that we receive those ex- 
ceeding great and precious promises, whereby wc 
are made partakers of the divine nature. 

All Christians know from experience that faith 
in Christ is the source of their holiness and peace. 
AVhen beset with temptations to despondency or 
sin, if they look to him for support, they are con- 
scious of a strength to resist, or to endure, which 
no effort of will and no influence of motives ever 
could impart. When they draw near to God as the 
members of Christ, they have freedom of access 
and experience a joy which is unspeakable and full 
of glory. When pressed down by afflictions if 
they remember that they are one with him who 
suffered for them, leaving them an example, they 
rejoice in their tribulations, knowing that if they 
suffer they shall also reign with him. 


Moreover, as in virtue of union with Christ we 
receive the Holy Spirit as the source of spiritual 
life, to maintain that life we must avoid every thing 
which may provoke the Spirit to withdraw from us. 
The Bible teaches us that the Spirit may be grieved ; 
that his influences may be quenched ; that God, in 
judgment, often withdraws them from those who thus 
offend. Evil thoughts, unholy tempers, acts of 
transgression are to be avoided not merely as sins, 
but as offences against the Holy Spirit. We must 
remember that to defile the soul with sin, or the body 
by intemperance or impurity, is sacrilege, because 
we are the members of Christ and our bodies the 
temples of the Holy Ghost. On the other hand, 
right thoughts, just purposes, holy desires are to bo 
cherished, not only as right in themselves, but as 
proceeding from that heavenly agent on whom we 
are dependent for sanctification. 

This is a very different thing from opposing sin 
and cultivating right feelings on mere moral con- 
siderations, and in dependence on our own strength. 
This may be what the world calls morality, but it 
is not what the Bible calls religion. Such consid- 
erations ought to have and ever will have, with the 
Christian, their due weight; but they are not his 
dependence in his efforts to become holy, nor is his 
reliance upon his own resources. The life which 
he leads is by faith in Jesus Christ ; and it is by 


constant reference to the Holy Spirit, and depen- 
dence on him that that life is maintained. For it is 
as inconsistent with the religion of the Gospel, to 
suppose that we can make ourselves holy by our 
own strength, as that we can be justified by our 
own works. 

It is principally through the efficacy of prayer 
that we receive the communications of the Holy 
Spirit. Prayer is not a mere instinct of a depend- 
ent nature, seeking help from the author of its being ; 
nor is it to be viewed simply as a natural expression 
of faith and desire, or as a mode of communion 
with the Father of our spirits ; but it is also to be 
regarded as the appointed means of obtaining the 
Holy Ghost. If ye being evil, know how to give 
good gifts unto your children ; how much more 
shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to 
them that ask him. Hence we are urged to be 
constant and importunate in prayer, praying espe- 
cially for those communications of divine influence 
by which the life of God in the soul is maintained 
and promoted. 

The doctrine that the Holy Spirit works in the 
people of God both to will and to do according to 
his own good pleasure, is not inconsistent with the 
diligent use of all rational and scriptural means, on 
our part, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of 
God. For though the mode of the Spirit's influ- 


ence is inscrutable, it is still the influence of a 
rational being on a rational subject. It is described 
as an enlightening, teaching, persuading process, 
all which terms suppose a rational subject rationally 
affected. The indwelling of the Spirit, therefore, 
in the people of God, does not supersede their own 
agency. He acts by leading them to act. Thus 
we are commanded to do, and in fact must do, what 
lie is said to do for us. We believe, though faith 
is of the operation of God ; we repent, though 
repentance is the gift of Christ ; we love, though 
love, gentleness, goodness and all other graces are 
the fruits of the Spirit. The work of sanctiiication 
is carried on by our being thus led under this 
divine influence to exercise right dispositions and 
feelings. For the law of our nature, which con- 
nects an increase of strength with the repeated 
exercise of any of our powers, is not suspended 
with regard to the holy disposition of the renewed 
soul. Philosophers say that the vibrations imparted 
to the atmosphere by the utterance of a word never 
cease. However this may be, it is certain every 
pious emotion strengthens the principle of piety, 
and leaves the soul permanently better. The good 
derived from that influence, or from those services 
which call our love, faith, or gratitude into exercise, 
is not transient as the exercises themselves. Far 
from it. One hour's communion with God pro- 


duces an impression never to be effaced ; it renders 
the soul for ever less susceptible of evil and more 
susceptible of good. And as the Holy Spirit is 
ever exciting the soul to the exercise of holiness, 
and bringing it into communion with God, he thus 
renders it more and more holy, and better fitted for 
the unchanging and perfect holiness of heaven. 

It is principally by the contemplation of the 
truth, the worship of God, and the discharge of 
duty that these holy exercises are called into being. 
All thought and affection suppose an object on 
which they terminate, and which, when presented, 
tends to call them forth. We cannot fear God 
unless his holiness and power be present to the 
mind; we cannot love him except in view of hi.; 
excellence and goodness ; we cannot believe, except 
in contemplation of his word, nor hope, unless in 
view of his promises. As these affections sup- 
pose their appropriate objects, so these objects 
tend to excite the affections. Were it not for our 
depravity, they never could be brought into view 
without the corresponding affection rising to meet 
them. And notwithstanding our depravity, their 
tendency, resulting from their inherent nature, 
remains, and as that depravity is corrected or re- 
moved by the Holy Spirit, these objects exert oa 
the soul their appropriate influence. We are, 


therefore, said to be sanctified by the truth ; * to be 
made clean through the word of Christ ;t to be 
born again by the word of truth ; J to be changed 
into the image of God by beholding his glory. § 

It is most unreasonable to expect to be conformed 
to the image of God, unless the truth concerning 
God be made to operate often and continuously 
upon the mind. How can a heart that is filled with 
the thoughts and cares of the world, and especially 
one which is often moved to evil by the thoughts or 
sight of sin, expect that the affections which answer 
to the holiness, goodness or greatness of God should 
gather strength within it ? How can the love of 
Christ increase in the bosoms of those who hardly 
ever think of him or of his work ? This cannot be 
without a change in the very nature of things, and, 
therefore, we cannot make progress in holiness 
unless we devote much time to the reading, and 
hearing, and meditating upon the word of God, 
which is the truth whereby we are sanctified. The 
more this truth is brought before the mind ; the more 
we commune with it, entering into its import, apply- 
ing it to our own case, appropriating its principles, 
appreciating its motives, rejoicing in its promises, 
trembling at its threatenings, rising by its influence 

* John xvii. 19. -j- John xv. 3. 

t James i. 18. § 2 Cor. iii. 18. 


from what is seen and temporal to what is unseen 
and eternal ; the more may we expect to be trans- 
formed by the renewing of our mind so as to ap- 
prove and love whatever is holy, just and good. 
Men distinguished for their piety have ever been 
men of meditation as well as men of prayer; men 
accustomed to withdraw the mind from the influ- 
ence of the world with its thousand joys and 
sorrows, and to bring it under the influence of the 
doctrines, precepts and promises of the word of 

Besides the contemplation of the truth, the wor- 
ship of God is an important means of growing in 
grace. It not only includes the exercise and ex- 
pression of all pious feelings, which are necessarily 
strengthened by the exercise, but it is the appointed 
means of holding communion with God and re- 
ceiving the communications of his grace. They 
that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength ; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they 
shall walk and not be weary, they shall run and 
not faint. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house ; 
they shall be still praising thee. They shall go 
from strength to strength, till they appear before 
God in Zion. This is a matter of experience as 
well as revelation. The people of God have ever 
found in the private, social and public worship of 
the Father of their spirits, the chief means of re- 


newing their spiritual strength. The sanctuary is 
the temple of God on earth whose services are pre- 
paratory to those of the temple not made with 
hands eternal in the heavens. It is here too that 
the sacraments, as means of grace, have their ap- 
propriate place. They are to us what the sacri- 
fices and rites of the old dispensation were to the 
Israelites. They exhibit and seal the truth and 
promises of God, and convey to those who wor- 
thily receive them the blessings which they repre- 
sent. The Christian, therefore, who is desirous of 
increasing in the knowledge and love of God, will 
be a faithful attendant on all the appointed forms 
and occasions of divine worship. He will be much 
in his closet, he will be punctual in the sanctuary 
and at the table of the Lord. He will seek oppor- 
tunities of fellowship with God, as a friend seeks 
intercourse with his friend ; and the more he can 
enjoy of this communion, the better will he be pre- 
pared for that perfect fellowship with the Father of 
lights which constitutes the blessedness of heaven. 
Finally, to be good, we must do good. It has 
been falsely said that action is the whole of oratory, 
and as falsely supposed that action is the whole of 
religion. There is no eloquence in action except as 
it is expressive of thought and feeling, and there is 
no religion in outward acts except as they are in- 
formed and guided by a pious spirit. It is only by 


maintaining such a spirit that external works can 
have any significance or value. It is perhaps one 
of the evil tendencies of our age, to push religion 
out of doors ; to allow her no home but the street or 
public assembly ; to withhold from her all food 
except the excitement of loud professions and ex- 
ternal manifestations. This is to destroy her power. 
It is to cut her off from the source of her strength, 
and to transform the meek and holy visiter from 
heaven, into the noisy and bustling inhabitant of the 
earth. It is so much easier to be religious outwardly 
than inwardly; to be active in church duties, than 
to keep the heart with all diligence, that we are in 
danger of preferring the form of religion to its 
power. The same love of excitement and desire 
to be busy which make men active in worldly pur- 
suits may, without changing their character, make 
them active in religious exercises. But if there is 
danger on this side, there is quite as much on the 
other. Although religion does not consist in out- 
ward acts, it always produces them. Whosoever 
hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have 
need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion 
from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?* 
The love of God can no more fail to produce obe- 
dience to his commands, than a mother's love can 

* 1 John hi. 17. 


fail to produce watchfulness and care for her infant. 
That man's religion, therefore, is vain which ex- 
pends itself in exercises that relate exclusively 
to his own salvation. And doubtless many Chris- 
tians go halting all their days, because they confine 
their attention too much to themselves. It is only 
by the harmonious exercise of all the graces, of 
faith and love towards God, and of justice and 
benevolence towards men, that the health of the 
soul can be maintained or promoted. It is not 
merely because the exercise of benevolence strength- 
ens the principle of benevolence that doing good 
tends to make men better, but God has ordained that 
he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He 
distils his grace on those who labour for the tem- 
poral and spiritual benefit of their fellow men, and 
who follow the example of the blessed Redeemer, 
walking with God while they go about doing good. 
True religion as we find it described in the Bible 
is then neither an external show, nor a fitful ebulli- 
tion of feeling. It is a permanent, spontaneous and 
progressive principle of spiritual life, influencing the 
Avhole man and producing all the fruits of right- 
eousness. It is not any one good disposition, but 
the root and spring of all right feelings and actions, 
manifesting itself in love and obedience towards 
God, in justice and benevolence towards man, and 

:<>ly LIVING. 341 

in the proper government of ourselves. This divine 
life can neither be obtained nor continued by any 
mere efforts of reason or conscience, or by any 
superstitious observances, but Hows from our union 
with Christ, who causes his Holy Spirit to dwell in 
all his members. In order to promote this divine 
life it is our business to avoid every thing which has 
a tendency to grieve the Spirit of all grace, and to 
do every thing by which his sacred influence on 
the heart may be cherished. It is by this influence 
that we are sanctified, for it leads us to exercise all 
holy dispositions in the contemplation of the truth, 
in the worship of God and in the discharge of all 
our relative duties. 

This unpretending volume, designed for the use 
of educated youth, was written with the view of 
impressing on its readers those great truths of reve- 
lation which are immediately connected with prac- 
tical religion. "VYe have designed to convince them 
that all skepticism as to the divine authority of the 
Scriptures is inexcusable, inasmuch as the Bible 
brings with it its own credentials. It makes such 
a revelation of the character of God, of the rule of 
duty and of the plan of salvation as challenges 
immediate assent and submission to their truth and 
goodness. It sets forth the Redeemer as the Son 
of God and the Saviour of sinners, in whom the 
glory of God is so revealed that those who refuse to 



recognise him as their God and Saviour refuse, to 
infinite excellence, their confidence and obedience. 
In order that every mouth may be stopped, the 
Bible, thus replete with evidence of its divine origin, 
is confirmed by all kinds of adequate proofs from 
miracles, prophecy and history, that it is, indeed, 
the word of God. 

The divine authority of the Scriptures being- 
established, the great question to be decided by 
every one by whom they are known, is, What do 
they teach as to the plan of salvation and the rule 
of duty ? It has been our design to aid the reader 
in answering this question for himself; to show 
him that the Bible teaches that we are all sinners, 
and that, being sinners, we have lost the favour of 
God and are unable to effect our own redemption. 
When we feel that this is true with regard to our- 
selves, we are convinced of sin, and are irresistibly 
led to ask what we must do to be saved. In an- 
swer to this question the Scriptures set forth Jesus 
Christ as born of a woman, made under the law, 
satisfying its demands, dying the just for the unjust, 
rising again from the dead, and ascending up on 
b'gh, where he ever liveth to make intercession for 
us. They teach us that it is not for any tiling don s 
or experienced by us, but solely for what Christ 
has done for us, that we are justified in the sight 
of God ; and that in order to our being saved 


through Christ, we must accept him as our Saviour, 
not going about to establish our own righteousness, 
but submitting to the righteousness of God. Those 
who thus believe, do, at the same time repent ; that 
is, they turn from sin unto God, through Jesus 
Christ. They are now his followers, and declare 
themselves to be such by confessing him before the 
world and by devoutly attending upon those ordin- 
ances which he has appointed to be means of ac- 
knowledging our allegiance to him, and of com- 
municating his grace to us. The Scriptures further 
teach that our work is but begun when we have 
thus renounced the world and joined ourselves unto 
the Lord. The spiritual life commenced in regene- 
ration is carried on by the Holy Spirit, who dwells 
in all the people of God, by teaching them to look 
to Jesus Christ, as their living head, for all those 
supplies of grace aud all that protection which their 
circumstances require. They are thus washed, 
sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, and being 
made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, 
they will be at last admitted into God's blissful 
presence and enjoy the full communications of his 
grace and love for ever and ever.